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Nicaragua's 'Green Revolution'

News from Nicaragua | Thursday, 14 July 2016 | Click here for original article

The following is a summary of a presentation by Guisell Morales, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the UK, Bristol, June 15 2016

In 2007 when the Sandinista government returned to power, only 25% of Nicaragua’s electricity and transport came from renewable sources.

By 2014 this had reached 52% due to abundant potential sources of renewable energy and the government’s commitment to a ‘green revolution’.

The government’s target is 90% by 2020.

Why Nicaragua is leading such a ‘green revolution’?

Nicaragua has territory of 130,000 km², holds seven percent of the world’s biodiversity, the largest tropical forest located to the north of Amazon, the largest lake in the Central American isthmus, 28 volcanoes, and 800 km of coastline.

Since 2007, a green oriented government has implemented various strategies to foster investment in the renewable energy sector. At the same time, an electrification programme, particularly in rural areas, has extended the national grid.

What kind of renewable energy projects exist in Nicaragua?

In 2014, 52% of the 4.4TWh generated came from biomass, geothermal, solar, small hydro and wind.

Green Energy Projects

  • Hydroelectric project – Tumarin, Raas – Total investment: US$ 1.2 Billion, Power generation: 253 MW
  • Geothermal projects – San Jacinto-Tizate & Casita-San Cristóbal – Investment: US$ 585.59, Generation: 107 MW
  • Wind projects – La Fe San Martín & Alba Rivas – Investment: US$ 302.9 million, Generation: 124 MW
  • Biomass Energy projects – 2012/2016 Investment: US$52.6 million, Generation 54 MW* per season
  • Solar Power projects – La Trinidad, Diriamba – Investment US$ 12 million donated by Japan, Generation: 1.38 MW

How does this relate to the government’s commitment to poverty reduction?

The ‘green revolution’ is taking place in the context of government’s commitment to reductions in carbon emissions (in line with the Paris Climate Change agreement), macro economic stability, and poverty reduction. Government measures implemented since 2007 include free health care and education; extensive infrastructure programmes; subsidies for public transport, water, energy and food; and production programmes benefitting the most vulnerable sectors of society. As a result of these measures extreme poverty has fallen from 17% of the population in 2005 to 8.3% in 2014.

What are the challenges for the energy sector?

  • Quality and universal access to electricity: 2.8 out of 10 Nicaraguans have no access to electricity and 47% depend on firewood for cooking; 17,790 households do not have access to mains electricity
  • Nicaragua currently uses only 10% of its renewable energy potential
  • Efficient distribution of energy to the Caribbean coast and other isolated areas.
  • Striking the right balance in cost of electricity to the poorer sectors of society and the productive sector using electricity for irrigation.

Conclusions

  • Nicaragua’s ‘green energy revolution’ can be considered a model for other countries
  • Nicaragua’s large and small scale renewable energy sector has a bright future due to the country’s largely untapped renewable resources
  • The vision, commitment, support and measures put in place by the Sandinista Government has enabled the 'green revolution.'