Geothermal energy is often overshadowed by its renewable counterparts, such as solar and wind, whose development continues to gain momentum during the energy transition.
However, efforts to exploit steam resources may receive a new impetus in 2023, driven by the potential development of this clean energy in the Caribbean and Central America.
Current geothermal capacity in Central America is led by Costa Rica (263 MW), followed by El Salvador (178 MW), Nicaragua (153 MW), Guatemala (34 MW) and Honduras (30 MW), according to BNamericas data.
Although Guadeloupe is the only Caribbean island nation that can boast of this renewable energy with 15 MW from the Bouillante plant (pictured).
Throughout the rest of Latin America, geothermal energy is found in Chile (78 MW) and Mexico (976 MW).
One of the main problems with geothermal energy, especially for smaller countries, is the high upfront cost of exploratory drilling to prove the resource.
To help offset these upfront costs, the Caribbean Development Bank recently approved a $17 million geothermal energy development project in St. Kitts and Nevis.
In turn, the World Bank announced in November a partnership with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Canada’s Clean Energy and Forests Climate Facility and the Climate Investment Fund to explore the viability of geothermal in St. Lucia.
Work is also underway in Guadeloupe to increase geothermal investment with a 10 MW project proposed by Ormat Technologies.
And Dominica Geothermal Development is moving forward with a 7MW project on the neighboring island with the procurement of a social and environmental assessment of transmission lines and substations.
Ormat’s regional footprint includes Guatemala, where the company is expanding the 23MW Zunil plant by 5MW.
In Nicaragua, the Ministry of Energy and Mines is expected to award work in the coming months to drill and conduct exploration work for the Cosiguina project.
Other projects in the country include Casita-San Cristóbal and Mombacho, as well as a 10MW expansion at Polaris Energy’s 72MW San Jacinto plant.
Finally, El Salvador’s state electricity company CEL, through its geothermal subsidiary LaGeo, has set a goal of adding geothermal fields in San Vicente and Chinimec with a total capacity of 35 MW.
At the second high-level conference of the Global Geothermal Alliance, held in El Salvador in September, member states adopted a declaration to support further cooperation to achieve the alliance’s goal of a fivefold increase in installed capacity for geothermal electricity generation and a threefold increase. geothermal heating until 2030.