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Over the last ten years, El Salvador has halved its use of fossil fuels for power generation
In 2010, fossil fuels accounted for 40.4% of the country’s total electric power generation. Ten years later, however, El Salvador continues to progress in its efforts to become less and less dependent upon this natural resource.
According to data provided by the country’s power transmission company, Empresa Transmisora de El Salvador, the use of fossil fuels accounted for 19.43% of yearly power generation at the end of 2019. This drop in the use of oil and other fossil fuels from the 2010 figure has occurred because renewable energy use in El Salvador has dramatically increased throughout the course of the last decade.
Geothermal power leads the way
In addition to generating energy using sources such as biomass (from bagasse which is the residue left after extracting juice from sugar cane), El Salvador has successfully integrated the use of solar and geothermal energy into its power generation mix. It is notable that, today, geothermal power represents 25% of El Salvador’s total electricity production. This figure makes the country one of the top ten geothermal power producing nations in the world.
Greater renewable energy use in El Salvador has translated into better rates for consumers. Ten years ago, before geothermal energy was highly developed, the average monthly price per megawatt-hour (MWh) in El Salvador was $139.17. Now that the use of oil has been significantly reduced for power generation, the cost of a megawatt-hour of energy stood at $81.31 at the end of 2019. It is anticipated that this price will be reduced further when the Pacific Energy national gas plant at the Port of Acajutla becomes operational in 2021.
During the most recent Energy Congress, organized by the Salvadoran Association of Industrialists, entrepreneurs and industry representatives stressed the importance of reducing the country’s reliance on petroleum to generate energy. Greater use of renewable energy in El Salvador would lessen the country’s exposure to risks related to the fluctuating price of a barrel of oil.
In recent years, El Salvador has taken concrete measures to diversify the sources of its energy production. Biomass, for example, accounted for 5.95% of total generation at the end of 2019. In order to have sufficient sugar cane available to provide raw material to create this source of power, investments in three new mills were made in the country in recent years.
In addition to biomass, solar power generation in El Salvador has also increased. Over the last half a decade, more than five significantly sized solar projects have been completed, and, as a result, 3.30% of the country’s total energy production now has its origin in this source.
Hydropower is another means by which the country has been powered. Hydro plants have produced a 28.8% share of renewable power output in El Salvador, while, as mentioned earlier, geothermal energy now represents a 25% share of the country’s energy production.
More renewable energy in El Salvador
A report that was recently produced by the National Energy Council (CND) of El Salvador has determined that the price of traditional sources of electric power will continue on an upward trend during the next decade. As a result, the organization recommends that the country continue to work towards the greater diversification of its energy base.
Although the Pacific Energy natural gas plant that will soon begin operations at the Port of Acajutla will utilize a fossil fuel, Salvadoran policymakers note that in addition to being advantageous from a price perspective, natural gas burns clean.
In an effort to further fuel the nation’s pursuit of greater renewable energy use in El Salvador, members of the Salvadoran Association of Industrialists have banded together to create a Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to work on increasing the potential of renewable energy projects. This will result in the further reduction of the use of oil and the greater use of alternative sources of electric power.
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