Honduras to refit hydro and improve renewable energy integration

Image: ENEE

Honduras will refit its main hydroelectric dam with an $18 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The loan will support the refitting of the Francisco Morazàƒ¡n (El Cajàƒ³n) hydroelectric dam in Honduras’ northwest alongside boosting the adaptability and integration of renewable energies to the country’s power system.

The Francisco Morazàƒ¡n plant started operations in 1986 and currently has an installed capacity of 300MW. In 2018, generation reached 1,625GWh. It is now the main hydroelectric dam in Honduras contributing 16% of the generated energy to the national grid.

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But with ageing equipment, the plant is anticipated to suffer service interruptions due to failures and increasingly longer unscheduled stops. In addition, the growing presence of variable renewable energies in Honduras’s generation matrix is leading to increasing wear and tear of certain elements of the dam.

With this operation, Honduras is seeking to boost the hydroelectric plant’s reliability and operational efficiency in order to meet the system’s needs and make up for the fluctuations of the renewable energy variables in a cost-effective and efficient way.

The project also contemplates replacing the monitoring and control mechanisms that are part of the command and supervision system, leading to increased digitalisation of the plant’s management, operation and maintenance.

The IDB loan consists of a $1.1 million concessional tranche, a $500,000 credit from the Bank’s ordinary capital and $16.4 million in concessional financing from the Clean Technology Trust Fund.

The project is in the hands of the state utility Empresa Nacional de Energàƒ­a Eléctrica (ENEE) with a cost totalling $36.8 million.

According to IRENA renewables contributed just over 50% to total primary energy supply in Honduras in 2017.

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