Wind Central America Congress – Top Tips From Leonel Umana, Development Manager, Globeleq Mesoamerica Energy

Globeleq developed the Cerro de Hula wind farm in Honduras. We asked Leonel for a brief overview of this successful project.

“Cerro de Hula is a wind farm with an installed capacity of 126 MW. It´s located in San Buenaventura and Santa Ana Municipalities, in which there are 63 turbines installed. Inside the project area, the company has to work with 300 landowners, where we have installed turbines and built access, platforms and interconnection infrastructure.

Being the first wind farm in Honduras, an important challenge was to close agreements (which are now appropriately registered) with the owners and both Municipalities. It has been through these agreements that the company has been able not only to complete the wind farm construction but also to satisfy certain community needs, taking into account its interests and positions.

Cerro de Hula’s construction required coordinating activities in different places within the project area. The construction was completed within the established deadlines and planned budgets, achieving a successful start to its operation.

With Cerro de Hula’s construction and operation, the company supports the Honduras Government and its interests with respect to the diversification of electricity sources, promoting public policies that allow the incorporation of new energy sources, providing technological support with visits to other plants in the region and sharing experience.

All this makes it possible for Cerro de Hula to rely on the communities and government authorities. Cerro de Hula attracted important investments in Honduras including international finance.

Cerro de Hula has made important savings for Honduras, as it generates almost 8% of the Honduran power generation with renewable sources; it has promoted the development of local communities not only through the rents that are being paid to land owners where it´s installed, but also through the direct and indirect strengthening of the local economy.”

Globeleq will be discussing Cero de Hula at the Wind Central America congress – view the agenda for more details

We then asked Leonel to offer some advice to any potential developers looking to enter the market. Read on for his top tips…

“The Central American energy sector needs to attract investment, in order to satisfy an increasing demand. However, the following aspects have to be taken into account:

  • Central America offers a variety of electricity sectors such as monopolies, open markets and regulated markets.
  • All countries in the area have problems with land tenancy, which can increase the risk for the investors if the situation is not properly identified from the beginning.
  • People in charge of government entities do not always have medium or long term continuity and, in many cases, they are a response to policy realities that flow with election results. Although these countries have laws that promote investments in the electricity sector, the opportunity, granting and permission of energy contracts that are “financeable” and provide legal security to investors depends on the government.
  • There isn’t enough public data with respect to wind source measurement, which restricts an investment acceleration. Each investor has to develop his own campaign, based on the current technology requirements (for example, height) and current financiers (measurement time and third party validation), so it´s important to build long-term measurement campaigns with a high level of reliability.
  • Finance accessibility for the electricity sector is based on development banking (which involves high intermediation, legal and technical advice costs), as local banks don´t offer long terms that allow an adequate investment recovery.
  • Countries in the region rely on a serious environmental protection system. However, our company’s experience (with presence in several Central American countries) is that of going further from what is required for national environmental requirements, based on international standards.
  • Nowadays, access to personnel with experience in wind farm management and operation is limited, and thus we continue relying on international resources.
  • It’s essential to have a social responsibility plan that is implemented from the start of the development activity and throughout the operation period. This plan has to be based on real and updated diagnoses that enable you to achieve the business objectives and to strengthen the social development of the communities in which the plants are located.”

To meet Globeleq and other regional industry experts, click here to register your attendance at Wind Power Central America. For more details, download the full event agenda here

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