- IRENA’s report on Central America’s decarbonization sees potential for the region to add a further 180 GW of renewables capacity by 2050
- Solar PV and wind energy together are likely to account for 30 GW of total capacity to account for 25% generation
- Decarbonization scenario can be realized with integrated regional planning, transforming transport sector together with the power sector and expanding transmission and distribution grids
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recommends Central America to adopt a decarbonized pathway to increase the renewables share in the energy mix of the region to 91% by 2050. This would result in solar PV and wind energy to contribute 30 GW of the total capacity and account for 25% of total generation. For this, the region would need to install 1.4 GW renewable energy on annual basis.
Other renewables sources in addition to solar and wind can be hydro power, bioenergy and waste, geothermal and natural gas.
In its new report Renewable Energy Roadmap for Central America: Towards a Regional Energy Transition, IRENA says following a decarbonized pathway will cost the region around $20 billion less than the planned energy scenario (PES) between 2018 to 2025. Another more ambitious scenario, Decarbonising Energy Scenario (DES) would instead help it reduce CO2 emissions by 70% by 2050.
The countries covered in the report are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
For solar specifically, the report recommends having an annual deployment target of 375 MW in the power sector in 2030, scaling it up to 780 MW in 2050 under the DES pathway. It would be compared to 145 MW by 2030 and 280 MW by 2050 under PES scenario. Overall, there is a potential to further exploit a renewable energy potential of around 180 GW.
Green hydrogen to be produced as a result of this enhanced renewables capacity can enable the region to decarbonize its heavy cargo road transport and ensure cleaner supply in the international shipping. Report writers model solar PV capacity of 698 MW and 1,100 GWh of electricity for 2040, and 1.25 GW with 1,973 GWh for 2030 to produce green hydrogen.
Analysts see integrated regional planning for energy transition as the key for the region to achieve decarbonization, with a central point being transformation of transport sector together with the power sector along with of course expanding transmission and distribution grids.
IRENA says the report serves as a technical guidance that can support policymakers in these nations in their decision-making processes to define low-carbon development in the region.
The Renewable Energy Roadmap for Central America: Towards a Regional Energy Transition report is available for free download and viewing on IRENA’s website.