Panama’s First Solar Farm

Panama’s first solar farm was inaugurated last week by President Ricardo Martinelli.

The 2.4 megawatt facility was made possible by a donation from ENEL Green Power and the Italian Government. It will supply electricity to 2,600 families in the community of Parita and nearby towns. Additionally, it will act as a training platform and provide opportunity for local study.

The plant will also create job opportunities and be a tourist attraction within Sarigua National Park, promoting the conservation of the Park.

Enel Green Power Panama is one the nation’s major electricity generators; with an installed capacity of 300MW – 23% of the Panama’s total electricity generation capacity. The Enel Fortuna hydroelectric plant generates a total of 1661 GWh/year, providing approximately 30% of the national energy production.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, hydroelectric power accounted for almost 60 percent of Panama’s electricity generation in 2010, with most of the remainder generated by oil-fired thermoelectric plants.

Data from the NREL shows Panama to have substantial solar power potential – 185,228,630 MWh/year; around 33 times the nation’s annual electricity consumption.

It may be some time before Panama’s home solar revolution really kicks in – apparently little in the way of stock of solar panels is held in the country and import duties are high.

Panama’s first wind farm is also scheduled to begin operations this year. A $US450 million project run by Union Eolica Panameña, Penonome wind farm will initially start with 220 megawatts capacity; reaching 337 MW in 2015 when all 135 turbines are installed.  Penonome wind farm will be the largest wind power facility in Central America.

Another wind farm to be constructed is Fersa Panama SA’s Toabre wind farm. The first stage will be 102-megawatt capacity and it will be expanded to 225 megawatts; eclipsing the Penonome facility.