The entire length of Central America is dotted with active volcanoes, a geographic fact that can have disastrous consequences for people in the region. But it also presents a positive opportunity, in the form of geothermal energy potential. And it's beginning to be realized.
Geothermal power plants harness energy from water that is heated by molten rock beneath the volcanos. A reliable source of renewable energy, geothermal is one of the best energy options for Central America.
Guatemala intends to produce 60% of its energy from a combination of geothermal and hydroelectric plants by 2022. El Salvador already gets 30% of its energy from two geothermal plants, and is about to build a third.
Because of the high costs of exploration, the startup expenses of building geothermal plants are significant. But their renewable energy capacities in a seismically active region like Central America make them an incredibly efficient form of energy creation, now and in the future.
- Mitchell Flexo
Photo: Smoke rises from the Pacaya volcano in San Vicente Pacaya, Guatemala, August 6, 2010. (Daniel LeClair/Reuters)