Costa Rica hosted global renewable energy experts

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: September 11th, 2017

• This workshop focused on expanding the development of the renewable energies market in Central America and took place September 7-8.

• EARTH University and RENAC of Berlin, Germany, organized the event.

The workshop “Growing the Development of the Renewable Energies Market in Central America” brought together national and international experts to discuss green energy development. Possible strategies, best practices and challenges facing the public, private and financial sectors of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama were explored.

Through presentations, dialogues and success stories, each country’s environmental commitment, political framework for a renewable energies market, related job skills training and financing options were addressed. The agenda also focused on network integration of renewable energies and the process of rural electrification.

The event, which took place September 7-8 in Hotel TRYP by Wyndham San José Sabana, was organized by the EARTH University Center for Research and Development in Renewable Energies (CIDER) – based in Guácimo, Costa Rica – and RENAC (Renewables Academy) of Berlin, Germany. The event attracted professionals from Central America’s public sector, business sphere and banking world.

“The Central American renewable energies market has grown considerably in the last few years,” said Bert Kohlmann, director of EARTH University’s CIDER. “The development of a solid market for renewable energy technologies involved various factors, including an investment framework, sources of finance, qualified personnel along the entire value chain, and norms for the network’s integration. These are the factors being analyzed at this event.”

As part of EARTH University’s commitment to raising social and environmental consciousness, CIDER is dedicated to educating about renewables and converting rural communities’ energy sources away from pollutive and depletive sources.

Renewables Academy is an international leader in continuing education, as well as multiple renewable energy and energy efficiency services. RENAC offers training and advanced education services surrounding alternative energies and efficiency for technicians, engineers, decision makers, investors and project developers. Since its foundation in January 2008, RENAC has trained more than 8,000 participants from around 145 countries.

Summary of the event by Harald Neitzel from the Environmental Ministry of Germany

1) I have seen encouraging developments of all invited Central American states such as:

  • RE expansion targets and “roadmaps” for future deployment
  • Promotion mechanism such as tax advantages, grants
  • Have heard no different positions of environment and energy ministries to bring RE forward in terms of GHG mitigation in the countries, which is very often not the case in all countries, implementing NDC`s according to the PA
  • Already realized pilot projects on large, medium and small scale
  • Addressing at almost all available technologies
  • however one exception: potentials and added value of generation of organic waste for electricity and heat should be deeper analysed, this technology provides rich opportunities for municipalities and farms (combining with waste management, local economic impacts, production of organic fertilizers)
  • Participation of the private sector, as well on small, medium and large scale including possibilities for citizen driven initiatives.

All countries seem to be on the “right track”.

2) I have heard also a consensus to achieve more regional integration in terms of cooperation on RE deployment. All countries can cooperate on the same “eye-level”, although one country has a significant higher share of coal in the electricity mix and three countries have still to overcome the challenge of providing access to energy for all.

3) As the transport sector is in all countries the by far most important GHG sources, NDC implementation will focus on this sector, already presented by CR (due to high shares of hydro power in all countries). This means also generating more electricity for the transport sector complementary to electricity growth (due to development gaps) for e-mobility (buses, cars and even – following a successful project on Tonga Island – so-called “Tuk-Tuks” or E-bikes or hydrogen production. So deployment and expansion of RE is the key for GHG mitigation in Central American states.

4) Expansion and deployment of RE in European States is accompanied by a common “European Electricity Market”. This is also a very important “back-up” pillar of the German energy transition. Advantages are:

  • Providing back-up capacities for increasing fragile electricity supply by RE, in particular wind and solar energy
  • Achieving more cost-efficiency by seeking comparative advantages
  • Providing markets for those countries who generate cost efficient significantly more electricity than needed
  • Generating higher amounts of electricity to provide electricity for transport and other sectors for electricity linkages

5) I have also heard about already existing encouraging regional institutions and structures to achieve more regional integration such as SICA, SIEPAC, a regional Energy Commission or accompanying regional institutions such as CEPAL and OLADE or BCIE or an already existing transboundary transmission grid.  Why not going a step further to discuss options of a common Central American green electricity market. I`m sure that it might be possible to win international donors for an appropriate budget to bring such a project on track.