Increased solar installations are key to the least-cost decarbonization path for Central America

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A solar project carried out in Panama by Solarcentury, now owned by Statkraft. Image: Solarcentury/Statkraft.

Solar installations in Central America must more than double this decade, before doubling again until 2050 if the region is to be placed on the least-cost path to decarbonization, according to a study by the International Agency for renewable energies (IRENA).

Released last week, IRENA “Renewable Energy Roadmap for Central Americareport concludes that the region could save around $20 billion if it pursued a more aggressive decarbonization of its energy system compared to its current trajectory.

Analysis conducted by the organization found that renewable energy project installations are expected to triple to 1.4 GW per year by 2050 to reach 180 GW of installed capacity.

The Decarbonization Scenario (DES) used in the IRENA report indicates that annual solar installations need to more than double the existing path suggestion of 145 MW to 375 MW per year, before more than doubling to 780 MW per year. by 2050.

By 2050, DES assumes a total generation capacity of 26 GW in the Central America region, an installation base that the report says would tap the potential of utility-scale solar capacity. and distributed rooftop capacity.

Such an installation rate would bring the share of renewables in electricity generation to 97% by 2050, well above the 59% share for which the sector is currently on track.

While DES would require an annual investment of $3.5 billion, or about 1.6% of the region’s gross domestic product in 2018, to invest in renewable energy generators and grid upgrades, the A more ambitious decarbonization path would save the region some $20 billion. of the total costs of the electrical system in relation to the existing track.

Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA, said: Central America is entering a “crucial decade” to transform its future energy system.

“The region has a unique opportunity to ensure sustainable development with renewable energy resources that can enhance its energy security by alleviating dependence on fossil fuels, while reducing costs, boosting the region’s post-COVID-19 recovery. and fighting climate change”.

Earlier this year, Martin Vogt, CEO of MPC Energy Solutions, pointed out to PV Tech Premium that Panama was a promising market to watch for solar PV, with 250 MW of installed capacity today.

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