Bloomberg Línea — Central America’s 2023 energy demand will grow 4.8% over the previous year, and in 2024 by 4.5% compared to this year, according to the Regional Electricity Market Operator (EOR), totaling 62,358 GWh in 2023, while in 2024 it will total 65,148 GWh, with renewables set to meet 79% of demand this year.
However, the Central America Operational Planning 2023-2024 report points out that there are notable differences between the growth estimates for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
On the one hand, the highest projected growth is observed for Panama, with 7.99% in 2023 and 8.48% in 2024, while the most conservative is for Costa Rica with 1.69% in 2023 and 2.2% in 2024.
Central America’s energy matrix
To meet demand, it is estimated that renewable sources will contribute an average of 79.2% of energy during 2023 and 2024, of which 51.4% corresponds to hydroelectric generation, 12.7% to variable renewable generation (wind and solar photovoltaic), 7.8% to biomass and 7.3% to geothermal generation.
According to the EOR report, the other important component in the regional energy matrix is made up of thermoelectric, which will contribute an estimated 18.7% on average for both years, dominated by the contribution of coal-fired power plants, with a 7.3% share, followed by natural gas plants with a 6.6% share and oil-fired plants with a 4.8% share.
Of the region’s total energy matrix, 1.6% comes from imports from the Mexican grid through the interconnection with Guatemala, which is dispatched to the Energía del Caribe power plant.
Energy deficit in Honduras
According to the results of the energy reliability indicator, which indicates the capacity of the generation system to supply demand at all times, the grid has sufficient generation capacity to meet the demand requirements of the six countries in the region.
Under the energy reliability criterion, the grids of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama do not present a risk of deficit; but in the case of Honduras, the deficit occurs in systems with a voltage lower than 115 kV.
The deficit in the Honduran system is related to restrictions in the 69, 34.5 and 13.8 kV networks, related to La Lima, Santa Marta, Yoro, Morazán and Santa Lucía substations.
The National Dispatch Center (CND) of Honduras, in charge of guaranteeing the continuity and security of electricity supply, reported in its 2023-2025 operational planning outlook that the electricity sector faces the possibility of a prominent power deficit in 2023, particularly from March to May, and during the months of August and September due to less rainfall.
The report posits a shortfall of power from the generating fleet and projected Regional Opportunity Market (MOR) injections to meet demand, and recommends a review of purchases from the MOR.