Chapter 4: The Energy Crisis

Is there an energy crisis in Central America? There certainly was in Nicaragua during 2007 and into 2008 when some parts of the country, including the capital Managua, suffered electricity cuts for up to 12 hours a day. At the time John Perry wrote,

Daily power cuts, dramatic increases in fuel costs, public buildings closed half the day to save energy, generating plants unable to operate, water shortages caused by lack of power to work the pumps, hikes in food prices driven in part by escalating transport costs. Does this sound like a forecast of an energy-starved future in a few decades time? In fact, it’s the present-day reality in the small Central American country of Nicaragua.[i]

Whilst this Nicaraguan situation was rather extreme and was later resolved, electricity cuts are far from unknown in the other Central American countries. On the surface of it, such situations are due to a simple failure of electricity supply to match demand, but it is necessary to scratch below the surface to discover the reasons for this mismatch.

Key words: Biomass | Firewood | Electrical energy | Energy deficit | Privatisation | Renewables | Fossil fuels | Hydro-electric power | Wind energy |Geothermal energy | Solar power | Small-scale alternatives

[i]   John Perry (2008) ‘The debate on energy and climate change – a different perspective’, Ch. 17 of Housing, the environment and our changing climate.