OLADE Meeting Examines Climate Vulnerability of Central American Hydropower Production

17 October 2012: The Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) conducted a workshop for Central America looking at the vulnerability of the region's hydropower plants to the impacts of climate change.

The "Regional Technical Workshop on Vulnerability of Hydropower Production Systems in Central America to Climate Change and Adaptation Options" workshop was held from 11-12 October 2012 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

The focus of the workshop was an OLADE study on the topic which looked at global and regional climate change models, hydro-meteorological data for the region's 573 basins, and data on hydropower production in the seven countries. The study projected a regional loss of hydroelectric production, measured in gigawatt hours per year (GWh/yr) of 14.5% by 2050 under the A2 climate change scenario, and 39.5% by 2090. The study also looked in detail at one hydropower plant in each of the seven countries and found high impact in 2050 only on Belize's Mollejon and Nicaragua's Copalar, but by 2090 the impact was very high not only for those two but also El Salvador's 15 de Septiembre and Panama's Bayano, and high impact for the remaining three.

Workshop participants asked for help in building local capacity to undertake similar vulnerability studies. The workshop also discussed adaptation options in general terms, with a particular focus on alternative, sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal. OLADE is working with the seven countries to study which of these options are viable for each, and the study undertaken for Central America is intended by OLADE to be replicated for other member countries for whom hydropower is an important component of their energy mix.

The workshop was organized with help from El Salvador's Superintendency of Electricity and Telecommunications (SIGET) and funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the Energy and Environment Partnership with Central America (EEP). It was attended by representatives of the energy ministries of all seven nations, the meteorological institutes of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama, the utilities in charge of hydropower in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama, as well as the Regional Committee for Water Resources (CRRH), the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Electricity Council of Central America (ECAC). [OLADE Press Release]