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Published on January 6th, 2013 | by Jake Richardson


94% Renewable Electricity By 2017 Is Goal For Nicaragua

January 6th, 2013 by  

Nicaragua has one of the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the world — it intends to have 94% of its electricity come from renewable energy by 2017. The spark for this new energy push was an energy crisis due to a heavy reliance on foreign oil. Reducing this over-reliance from 70% to 6% could be made possible by renewable energy infrastructure development.


Image Credit: KEITH, Wiki Commons

While these goals may seem unachievable in a poor country with technological challenges, there are only about six million people living there, and a single, very large hydroelectric plant could go a long way toward providing clean energy. The Tumarin project will cost about $1.1 billion and has a 253-megawatt capacity. It should be completed by 2016 and could provide about 50% of the country’s electricity.

The Amayo I and II wind farms are producing about 63 megawatts, and a 72 MW geothermal project — the San Jacinto-Tizate — could become operational by 2014. Bagasse already supplies a small percentage of their total power, and solar is also an option.

The switch from fossil fuels to renewables could move Nicaragua from one of the most oil-dependent nations to one of the least in a very short time. “You must recall that this is taking place in the second-poorest country in Latin America  and amid the worst financial, economic social and increasingly political crisis of world capitalism since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” said Nicaraguan presidential advisor Paul Oquist.

Often, because the largest nations are perceived as being more important, news about them gets the most attention, and some of them struggle to make significant changes quickly. As a result, there is too much skepticism — even cynicism — about the viability of renewable energy. Green energy is not just another fad, though. If Nicaragua gets to 94% renewable electricity by 2017, it will become an inarguable example of success, not just environmentally, but also economically — because a significant portion of its GDP will no longer be spent on foreign oil.

Nicaragua Would Join a Long List of Countries Powered by Renewable Energy

Editor’s note: coincidentally, I just ran across a wonderful list of 45 countries that already get 60% or more of their electricity from renewable energy. The compilation was put together by Dr. Karl-Friedrich Lenz, using data from the CO2scorecard site. Here’s the full list (countries in bold get 95% or more of their electricity from renewable energy):

Albania (100% hydro in 2008).

Angola (96.45% hydro in 2008)

Austria (73.86% renewable in 2009, 12.5% of that non hydro)

Belize (90.91% hydro in 2008)

Bhutan (99.86% hydro in 2008)

Brazil (88.88% renewable with 4.93 non hydro in 2009)

Burundi (100% hydro in 2008)

Cameroon (77.31% hydro in 2008)

Canada (61.95% renewable, with 1.86% non hydro in 2009)

Central African Republic (81.25% renewable in 2008)

Columbia (85.67% hydro in 2008)

Congo (82.22% renewable in 2008)

Costa Rica (93.11% renewable in 2008)

DPR Korea (61.86%  hydro in 2008)

DR Congo (99.46% hydro in 2008)

Ecuador (64.12% renewable in 2008, with 2.21% non hydro)

El Salvador (62.24% renewable in 2008, with 26.92 non hydro)

Ethiopia (88.17% renewable in 2008, with 0.27% non hydro)

Fiji (68.04% renewable in 2008)

Georgia (85.52% hydro in 2008)

Ghana (75.03% hydro in 2008)

Guatemala (61.31% renewable, with 17.5 non hydro in 2008)

Iceland (100% renewable, with 26.27% geothermal in 2009).

Kenya (62.59% renewable, with 21.06% non hydro in 2008)

Kyrgyzstan (90.85% hydro in 2008)

Lao PDR (92.46% hydro in 2008)

Latvia (62.23% renewable with 1.96% non hydro in 2008)

Lesotho (100% hydro in 2008)

Madagascar (66.67% hydro in 2008)

Malawi (86.31% hydro in 2008)

Mozambique (99.87% hydro in 2008)

Myanmar (62.05% hydro in 2008)

Namibia (70.91% hydro in 2008)

Nepal (99.67% hydro in 2008)

New Zealand (72.52% renewable, including 15.42% non hydro in 2009)

Norway (97.11% renewable, including 0.93% non hydro in 2009)

Paraguay (100.00% hydro in 2008), exporting 90% of generated electricity (54.91 TWh in 2008)

Peru (60.53% renewable, including 1.47% non hydro in 2008)

Sweden (60.42% renewable, including 10.58% non hydro in 2009)

Tajikistan (98.25% hydro in 2008)

Tanzania (61.45% hydro in 2008)

Uganda (74.77% hydro in 2008)

Uruguay (61.98% renewable, with 9.33 non hydro in 2008)

Venezuela (69.57% hydro in 2008)

Zambia (99.69% hydro in 2008)

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  • Jeff

    From 6% to 94% renewable energy by 2017 in Nicaragua?
    Seriously folks, the only way this will happen is for Venezuela to cut off
    their oil supply, the economy to collapse, and most everyone to go back to
    donkey carts for transportation. Heck, let
    us just shoot for 100% renewable and get it over with right now.

    I wish Nicaragua well in its move to get away from fossil
    fuels, however, a five-year plan for one of the poorest countries in Latin
    America that is more reasonable would be more effective.

    • Renewable *electricity* (not energy). Oil is a very expensive way to create electricity. This is not unreasonable at all.

  • RCG

    hydro dam power is not’s not as bad as burning fossil fuels or nuclear but damages>forever changes>entire ecosystems… not even close to being green. It is an ignorant interpretation.

    • PCG

      The future of Hydro power is also dependant on reliable rainfall and major climatic changes are already having a negative impact. The failure of the monsoons in India has led to a crisis in supply which has, in turn, fuelled the nuclear power and coal lobbies.

  • James Van Damme

    Nicaragua has a lot of hot rocks too. I hope they make this happen, but their politics always seems to get in the way. Same with Madagascar, an environmental disaster area, where they’ve cut down the rain forests to make charcoal to cook on, and use high-sulfur diesel to make electricity (no power grid). In a place where solar power is abundant.

    The problem with hydro is there’s just so much you can do, and any increase in power demand comes from something else. A good thing about dams is you might be able to use them for pumped storage from wind farms.

  • I believe these numbers leave out transportation. Brazil makes bio fuel from sugar cane but Canada uses largely fossil fuel in its cars, trucks and trains.

    The technology for reasonably cheap electric power is already available to us but more research work is required for a competitive non food bio fuel that will replace gasoline in countries that can’t grow sugar cane.

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