Nicaragua hopes to run on 100% clean energy in six years

Nicaragua News Bulletin 11 May 2010 – May 2010

In an effort to reduce dependency on petroleum, Nicaragua’s Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) has set the goal of running entirely on renewable energy by 2016. Today, approximately 30% of Nicaragua’s energy comes from renewable sources (including geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, and biomass) while the other 70% comes from oil.

A number of projects (both public and private) are helping to change these percentages and make the Ministry’s goal a reality. Iceland’s International Development Agency will support growth within the geothermal sector with over US$4 million. Director Gil Paison said that the objective was to strengthen the capacity of Nicaragua’s central government and the ministries and agencies involved in the geo-thermal energy field.

Energy Minister Emilio Rappaccioli recently visited the geothermal project ran by Polaris Energy and Queiroz Galvao, a Brazilian company, at San Jacinto-Tizate. The companies are currently expanding the capacity of the plant and installing new technology. They hope that by next April it will be producing 36 megawatts (up from 10 megawatts), enough energy to supply the departments of Chinandega and Leon. Tom Ogryzlo, head of Polaris Energy Nicaragua, said, “I have worked in many countries around the world and in only a few places have I seen the support from a government similar to that which has been offered by this government.” A total of US$151 million has been invested in this phase of the operation.

Rappaccioli said that by 2012, the geothermal plants at San Jacinto-Tizata and Momotombo will be producing between them 72 megawatts of electricity. Polaris Energy already has a contract to sell energy to Union Fenosa (the Spanish-owned electricity company which runs Nicaragua’s energy distribution network) at US$92 per megawatt hour. (La Prensa, May 6; Radio La Primerísima, May 7, 8)