Honduras is one of 148 countries worldwide with the best potential for generating solar energy, but renewable energy in the country just wake of decades of stagnation and now represents only about 36 percent of the national energy matrix.
According to a study of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), “Photovoltaic solar energy provides a unique competitive potential in the countries of the” Sunbelt “characterized by high levels of solar radiation and, often, high prices electricity tariffs. ”
The EPIA warns that “despite its exceptionally high levels of solar radiation, these countries today represent only 9 percent of the installed photovoltaic capacity worldwide, which clearly demonstrates the potential of the” Sunbelt “is yet to fully exploit. ”
In Honduras, Choluteca and Valle are the areas of greatest potential for large central power generation, from solar energy and the most interesting for energy projects such as research reveals that the year recorded an average annual daily maximum of 8.4 hours of sun in these sectors.
“February, March and April are the months of greater availability of solar energy in the country in February is to 9.1 hours of sunshine daily average for the area south of the country,” says study author and a PhD in energy Thermoelectric, Marco Flores.
Dr. Flores, coordinator of the Energy Section of the Faculty of Sciences of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras (UNAH), interested in discovering the solar resource in our country, decided in 1997 to analyze the brightness of the star in the country, registered over 28 years at national weather stations and some of El Salvador and Guatemala.
After selecting 34 of these stations, the professional study of cloudiness and rain, creating the Atlas of Honduras Heliofánico “shows the distribution of solar energy in the country.”
Thermal power generation is another mechanism for solar energy, but requires further study.
Solar thermal energy is another mechanism for solar energy, but requires further study.
Flores found that other places with the best solar potential are in the department of Lempira and the southern part of Francisco Morazan.
“The average annual sunshine hours and the energy per square meter is the data for areas of interest to know what our solar potential, for example, in the South, throughout the year on average have 8.4 hours between 5 sun , 5 and 6 kilowatt hours per square meter per day (kWh/m2/day). ”
“The average of all years is 7.6 in the South, the insular area has 7, the central 6.7 and has the least area is the North.”
In Choluteca, Valle, south of Lempira and Ocotepeque, preferably in the first two, could be installed plants generating electricity from solar photovoltaic or solar thermal, but Dr. Flores says it would be necessary to make a more specific study to identify these departments specific geographic locations where to install a power plant.
“In 1996 our energy consumption was 3.1 TWh and that was only 0.56 percent of the energy they receive from the sun,” says the interviewee.
One of the obstacles to the use of this renewable energy is its initial investment, as the approximate cost of a photovoltaic power plant is five million dollars per megawatt. In the case of a solar thermal power, requires less investment of two million dollars per megawatt.
Nevertheless, Flores believes that a project could be profitable for the investor and the country if the price of electricity purchased from the PV were higher, as is customary in Europe.
“In Germany, for example, many homes have photovoltaic panels, because as people are not at home during the day, no power, but produce electricity, then we will sell electricity to the energy company of Germany.”
“During the day they are selling and at night are buying, is an accountant who works in two ways, measuring the input and measures what comes out, then they paid in the end is the difference between energy entering and leaving. ”
The mechanism of buying and selling between energy company and the subscribers could be implemented in Honduras, but “we should reform the law on renewable energy incentives, to allow the entry into operation of large projects or home to sell power to the grid , the profitability of a project of these is good. ”
Flores asserts that one of the peaks of higher energy consumption in the country is at noon, which is precisely when we have more availability of solar energy.
“Inefficient diesel plants and higher selling prices more than 20 cents per kWh, if the solar PV cost 17 or 16 cents, then it would be competitive.”
“If you can do big photovoltaic power plants, they could displace electricity generation with fossil fuels such as bunker, diesel and others.”
Dr. Flores also made in 2008 a study of solar radiation with the United Nations Organization for the Environment, which determined the solar potential in kilowatt hours per square meter per day, the largest being 6 to 6.5 kWh per square meter per day.
A professional approach, to be defined more sites solar potential of the country, missing only interested investors who choose to study in a particular area “and perhaps between one and three years later I could have installed photovoltaic power generating country electricity. ”
For his part, Deputy Minister of Energy of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (Serna), Roberto Cardona, said that “in terms of solar energy is concerned, there are very small projects, mostly in villages, where schools have pilot projects done. ”
According to the official, solar projects have not been able to expand in the country due to the high cost of photovoltaic technology is needed to generate this kind of energy, which in turn makes it difficult to manage government funding in this area.
“Not that I mean that you can not drive these projects, what happens is that the authorities of government is much more difficult to get resources to generate this energy.”
Dr. Cardona said that Serna still working to give continuity to the solar energy pilot projects in order to advance the micro renewable energy production.
“The current government policy is to promote clean energy development by any mechanism for renewable energy, either photovoltaics, hydro, wind, biomass-based, clean energy any mechanism we will promote, both at central government at the Ministry of Environment. ”
“For many years we have relied on thermal power has been falling for 85, 80 percent to now we have a 63 to 64 percent of thermal energy and the rest would be shared between the production of renewable energy.”
Before 2030, the solar energy is preponderant in the countries of Sunbelt, according to research conducted by the EPIA.
This organization analyzes the ability of such renewable energy to meet electricity demand in that area of the planet.
For this reason, the association says that “the PV has a unique opportunity to become one of the main energy sources by 2020 and source of the majority before 2030.”
The research provides the expensive photovoltaic systems, which are used to transform solar energy into electricity, will drop in price by 66 percent by 2030, producing a decline in generation costs.
“Except for China, the top 10 markets for solar energy worldwide are currently located outside the region of the Sunbelt, the article said.
EPIA’s report highlights the need to encourage solar photovoltaic industry and at the same time, governments of these countries to ensure the ability to serve these markets.
The BCIE currently funded at $ 200 million wind farm in Cerro de Hula, in Honduras, with Gamesa wind turbines, and also financially supports Phase II wind project Amayo in Nicaragua, with Suzlon wind turbines, among others.
The wind project in Cerro de Hula, Honduran land will produce 102 MW of wind energy, increase employment in the area and have an impact on reducing the environmental problems caused by climate change.