The small Central American nation of El Salvador has been relying on hydropower and oil to meet its electricity needs, but that’s due to change as non-profit state-owned utility Comision Ejecutiva Hidroelectrica del Rio Lempa (CEL) is preparing to auction development rights for a 14.2-MW solar power farm in 2013 and a 42-MW installation in 2014, Bloomberg News reports.
Non-profit and state-owned, CEL began investigating the development of solar energy in 2010 as part of an overarching national strategy with the twin aims of developing the country’s renewable energy resources and enhancing conservation and protection of its natural resources. Among it’s solar energy resource development efforts, CEL has installed and has been evaluating the performance, cost and technical aspects of a small, 24.57-kW grid-connected solar PV installation at its administrative offices in San Salvador.
International Collaboration Results in El Salvadoran Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation Strategy
With financial and technical support from Germany’s KfW overseas development bank, CEL has been working on a preliminary feasibility study of grid-connected solar PV projects of at least 5 MW.
In January 2011, ILF began providing technical, financial and economic development consulting services to CEL that has resulted in the planned 2013 auction of rights to develop what would be El Salvador’s first grid-connected, utility-scale solar PV installations — the 14.2-MWp solar power field in the area of CEL’s Central hydroelectric facilities and a 3.6-MWp installation in Guajoyo.
CEL is also working with the US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) to carry out a feasibility study that is to evaluate installing solar PV fields in the area of the state utility’s Central and Cerron Grande hydroelectric power plants. The USTDA in August, 2011 awarded CEL a $267,000 grant to fund a feasibility study on a pilot 3-MW, grid-connected solar PV field.
Complementary to its clean, renewable energy drive, the Salvadoran government has also launched a national energy efficiency program that aims to reduce electric bills across Salvadoran society by promoting and fostering best practices to reduce fuel and electricity consumption.
Some 75 government agencies have signed up to participate in the program, which is being run by the National Electricity Board (CNE). One of the program’s immediate goals is to reduce electricity consumption and bills by promoting and supporting a switch from incandescent and fluorescent lighting to compact fluourescent and LED lighting.
The Salvadoran government has been formulating an overarching national strategic renewable energy and energy conservation policy. The ultimate goal of CNE’s strategic Plan Maestro para Desarollo de las Energias Renovables de El Salvador (Master Plan for the Development of Renewable Energy), developed with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is to “identify and analyze the energy potential of the country’s varied renewable… that forms a clean energy development strategy that’s to be carried out from 2012-2027.”