Largest Wind Farm in Central America Opens in Panama

The wind farm Penonomé was inaugurated on Tuesday as a project designed to meet Panama’s increasing demand for energy. The largest in Central America and 13th in the world, the installation of 108 wind turbines will produce between 6% and 7% of the Country’s electricity. According to La Estrella newspaper, this is the equivalent of energy consumption for 100,000 families.

Experts are supportive of the ambitious plan, maintaining that wind turbines require an investment of approximately $1.5 million per MW – or half the cost associated with hydropower plants. The Panama Wind Union consortium will operate the facility and maintains that production of wind energy will help Panama to reduce its emissions, currently 450K tons of carbon, and will mitigate another thousand of nitrogen oxide and 500 of sulfur dioxide.

According to the Panamanian government, the demand for electricity has reached a year-on-year growth rate of 8% and will require an investment of approximately $3 billion in the next decade to meet the demand. Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, but fell behind in infrastructure to increase the generation and transmission of energy.

The inauguration took place after conclusion of a third phase, generating a capacity of 270 MW of clean energy.  Located in the central province of Coclé, 150 kilometers east of the capital, it will include a fourth phase that will raise its potential to 337 MW and responds to the nation’s policy to increase the use of renewable energies like wind and solar, to limit the dependence on hydro and thermal.

Authorities hope that 2016 will see an achievement of 400 MW of generated wind power, an installed capacity that would satisfy the needs of almost a quarter of the nation. The greatest investor of the Penonomé wind farm is InterEnergy Holdings, a transnational dedicated to clean energies in Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Chile and Panama. The country’s energy matrix depends highly on thermal plants, highly polluting, and the hydroelectric plants, that besides the damage to the environment by its installation, work in an unstable way in dry periods.

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