Honduras' first wind park, the 102-MW Cerro de Hula facility, will begin producing electricity in the first quarter of 2012, just as other developers could be breaking ground on three other projects, Jose Moran, development manager of developer Energia Eolica de Honduras (EEH) has told REW.
EEH, which belongs to larger Honduran energy group Mesoamerica, is to begin building the site, billed as "Central America's largest wind park,” in the coming months, he said. At the same time, EEH is building a 102-MW power station that will be fed by the wind park.
According to Moran, the facility will begin generating electricity next June and will be fully powered up in November or December. It will create 470 jobs.
Cerro de Hula has an ideal location as it sits a 30-minute drive from Honduras' capital Tegucigalpa. The site's turbines will be supplied by Spanish wind firm Gamesa and will supply electricity to the power station for 20 years under a contract with state power supplier Empresa Nacional de Energia Electrica (ENEE).
"The area's winds are very stong and the park is very close to the power grid and right next to the Panamericana highway [which crosses Central America]," said EEH's community relations director Evelyn Nunez.
She revealed that three other firms including a French wind company and local energy firms Grupo Terra and Vientos de la Pena are at the early stages of planning wind projects in the country. However, observers said these are unlikely to be larger than 20-30 MW as developers don't have the financial prowess to pursue larger projects.
Grupo Terra and Vientos de la Pena did not return phone calls.
Nunez said Honduras is making strides toward developing a renewables program but the government still lacks "a clear plan" and heavy red tape and political volatility makes it difficult to hammer one out. However, observers say Honduras has great potential for the development of wind and solar power. Underscoring the bureaucracy linked to these projects, the Cerro de Hula projects took 15 years to plan and faced several setbacks, Nunez concluded.