The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in partnership with the Central American Integration System (SICA) has developed the initiative “Clean Energy Corridor of Central America (CECCA)”, aimed at supporting the process of integrating renewable energy sources (RES) into the Central American power system.
The Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC), a transmission line interconnecting the control areas of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama has recently been concluded. This infrastructure development presents a clear opportunity for the deployment of renewable energy in the region.
Recent working sessions between IRENA and the regional and national administration, the Central America Regional Grid Operator (EOR), the Regional Regulator (CRIE), the private sector and other stakeholders active in the region, have helped detect several barriers hindering the reliable and secure penetration of electricity from renewable energy sources (RES-E) in the electricity system. In particular, the gaps identified involve the lack of specific regulation, technical tools and experience with regard to the operation of the regional power system with medium to high shares of Variable Renewable Energy (VRE). Considering the increasing number of connection demands from wind farms and photovoltaic power plants to the regional electricity grid, some areas of collaboration that prioritise possible lines of action to overcome those barriers has been drafted by IRENA.
Then, on 18 and 19 February IRENA and SICA organized these political and technical stakeholder consultation workshops in El Salvador. Attending stakeholders comprised high-level officials, decision makers and technical experts from national and regional energy and climate change bodies and international development partners active in the region. The main objective was to introduce and seek most comprehensive feedback on IRENA's proposed technical and governance/regulatory components within the Clean Energy Corridor for Central America (CECCA), including CECCA’s synergies with climate change regional policies.
Two complementary objectives were to:
- strengthen the strategic collaboration with SICA under the umbrella of the MoU signed in May 2014; and
- identify possible synergies with other existing and/or planned activities and programmes in the region, executed by other international development partners (IDB, ECLAC, GIZ, USAID, OLADE).
This workshop has provided IRENA with the information necessary to design a comprehensive strategy for CECCA. Based upon the feedback obtained, and the lessons learned from the ongoing IRENA Clean Energy Corridor initiatives, the CECCA strategy has been structured around the following five pillars to be customized to address the regional and local context that will be implemented in two phases:
- Enabling Frameworks to support systemic changes and developments required for a reliable and affordable power system transition (further sub-divided into technical and governance themes);
- Country and Regional Planning to fully consider cost-effective RE options;
- Zoning & Resource Assessment to identify high resource and appropriate areas for RE deployment;
- Capacity Building to plan, operate, maintain and govern power systems with higher shares of RE generation;
- Public Information on how CECCA provides reliable, sustainable and affordable energy.