Honduras is the only country in its region to be self-sufficient in energy. Infrastructure in Honduras has shifted from oil import dependency to self-created hydroelectric power.
The El Cajón Dam and Rio Lindo/Yojoa system established Honduras’ hydroelectric potential with a total energy output of 577 megawatts (MW). One MW hour can power about 650 residential homes. El Cajón produces 292 MW, enough energy to power 189,000 residential homes.
The El Cajón hydroelectric dam, also referred to as a hydroelectric plant, is located on the Humuya River in central Honduras. The dam’s primary function is electric energy production, but it further controls flood waters and ensures regular irrigation throughout the year.
El Cajón embodies physical infrastructure in Honduras, but the country has also taken action to improve laws related to renewable energy and power supply. Honduras approved its new Law of Electrical Industry in 2014. This law replaces the previous Electricity Subsector Framework Law and outlines the legal framework for the electricity sector.
The Law of Electrical Industry establishes:
- Conditions for contracting new energy capacity
- Minimum quotas for renewable energy set by the government
- Technology-specific auctions for renewable energy
- Purchase Power Agreements (PPAs) for hydropower facilities that last up to 30 years
A PPA is an agreement between a renewable energy provider and a consumer in order to reduce the total energy bill. The provider arranges the design, permitting, financing and installation of a system on the consumer’s property at little cost. Although the consumer does not own the system, PPAs make renewable energy affordable.
The percentage of Hondurans with access to electricity has significantly increased over the past 24 years, jumping from 55 percent to 88 percent of its nine million residents. Although electricity has become more accessible, nearly 60 percent of the population remains below the poverty threshold.
Infrastructure in Honduras has taken a step forward in its self-sufficient energy production, but the demand for electricity has surpassed initial projections. PPAs may further the country’s progress by offering affordable energy to the 5.57 million Hondurans living in poverty.
– Carolyn Gibson