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Central America Solar Capacity Set To Explode

The Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama may not be household names in the solar energy game, but if the latest forecasts from market research company IHS Technology are to be believed, that might soon change.

Total capacity for the six countries currently stands at 6 MW in 2013, and is expected to reach 22 MW by the end of 2014. It’s an impressive jump, but nothing to write home about. However, IHS believe that the region will then see their installed capacity explode, reaching up to 243 MW in 2015 before continuing to grow to over 500 by the end of 2018.

central america

“About 70 percent of the electricity generated in Central America already comes from renewable sources, mainly hydro,” said Josefin Berg, senior analyst for solar demand at IHS. “Yet over the past few years, increasing power demand has been met with new thermal generation thanks to power generated from oil, coal and gas, increasing reliance on fossil fuel imports. To counteract this and to avoid future volatility in electricity pricing, governments have begun supporting the controlled deployment of renewables.”

The forecast figures predict that 81% of the six-year projected total will be spread over the final three years, reaching a cumulative total in the region of 1.5 GW by the end of the forecast period.

An earlier report from August backs up IHS’s predictions. Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported in August that Mexico and Central America have seen clean energy investment skyrocket over the past several years.

Mexico saw record investment of $2.4 billion in 2010, but at the time of the report the country had already invested $1.3 billion in the first half of the year. While further south, Bloomberg calculated for the six countries of Central America a total investment in clean energy of $317 million throughout the first half of 2014.

Countries throughout the Americas, Middle East, Africa, and Asia have been heralded as the future of renewable energy growth, thanks to a series of contributing factors — including the ever decreasing cost of renewable energy like solar and wind, the need to secure at-home energy generation, and attract international investment. However, it is likely that growth in these regions will take place over a longer period of time than was seen throughout the westernized world over the past decade.

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