Honduras’ first wind power plant began operations on Tuesday amid an ongoing energy crisis that has prompted frequent power outages across the country. Roberto Martínez, manager of the state-run electricity company, Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica (ENEE), inaugurated the wind farm, which includes 51 wind turbines lining a hill some 25 kilometers south of Tegucigalpa.
Martínez said the wind farm is the first phase of a more expansive push to bring more wind energy to the Central American country. Currently, 35 of the 51 Gamesa wind turbines are operational, with the remaining towers to begin functioning by the end of the year, producing a total of 102 MW at a cost of $260 million. The wind farm currently produces 69 MW of electricity, enough, said Martínez, to offset the ongoing power outages.
Private company Eólica de Mesoamérica will operate the wind farm for 20 years. Recently, ENEE has had to ration electricity in both urban and rural areas during peak usage hours. Much of the company’s power infrastructure is also hampered by aging equipment, faulty power lines and substations more than half a century old.
In April 2010, ENEE officials signed contracts with 49 companies that will provide renewable energy, including Mesoamérica. Honduras currently generates 70 percent of its energy from carbon-based plants and 30 percent from renewable sources.
Last June, the Honduran government announced it would invest $2.1 billion over the next six years in renewable energy projects. The 52 projects to be developed between 2010 and 2016 will generate 250 MW, which will be sold to ENEE at an average price of 10 cents per kWH.
Héctor Borjas, vice president of the Honduran Association of Small Energy Producers, said 50,000 jobs would be created in more than 30 municipalities.