Over the past 2 years Deetken Impact has travelled extensively in Honduras, from Omoa in the North to Choluteca in the South to Danli, east of Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital. The starting point of our current journey is the town of Omoa, a small fishing village of around 30,000 people on the Caribbean coast, 18 km west of the large port city of Puerto Cortes. While indicators of poverty are lower here than in other areas of the country, they are still elevated. We are visiting a small hydro project up in the hills in a small community some distance from the main highway.
Honduras has set ambitious goals for electricity generation from renewable sources, expecting to reach a 95% share by the end of the next decade. With significant recent capacity additions, the country has already made great progress helped by both price and tax incentives. As of 2017 close to 60% of the electricity generated came from clean sources with hydropower leading the way with 34%, while solar (10%), biomass (7%), wind (6%), and geothermal (1%) sources made up the rest. At the start of this decade the situation was the reverse, with close to 60% of generation from thermal sources. Honduras is now the second largest solar market in Latin America behind Chile, and one of the first non-island countries in the world with at least 10% solar energy for electricity generation.
“Honduras has set ambitious goals for electricity generation
from renewable sources, expecting to reach a 95% share
by the end of the next decade”.
Despite this progress, there is still a lot that can be done. First of all, Hondurans don’t have universal access to electricity; according to the latest data from the World Bank, in 2016 only 87% of the population had access. Second of all, as the economy of Honduras develops, energy consumption is expected to increase. Energy consumption is currently about 800 KWh per capita compared to a global average of 3,000 KWh per capital and consumption of more than 15,000 KWh per capita in Canada. Given the country’s geography and weather conditions, there is significant untapped hydro potential. Development of more small-scale hydro projects in Honduras would not only contribute to increased access to electricity from a renewable source but it could also be done with significant social benefits to the communities involved further contributing to a more sustainable development.
Social Impact of a Small Hydro Project
Deetken Impact works with small-hydro project developers who emphasize community consultation and local benefit. The project we are visiting near Omoa includes water treatment facilities and required the construction of a new 1.5 km road. Transmission lines built along that road have provided some rural Hondurans with access to electricity for the first time in their lives. Featuring a 2 km canal, the site is also strikingly beautiful. The project employs 8 staff to operate the hydro facility, including individuals hired locally. A soccer field was also built as an additional benefit for the community. This type of local community consultation and tangible benefit is critical for the sustainable implementation of more renewable energy capacity in the decade to come as Honduras strives towards 100% renewable energy generation.