Nicaragua on the Rise as Next Leader in Renewable Energy
The Central American country of Nicaragua could be the next big leader in renewable energy. The country has recently received praise for its aggressive energy policies, as well as its drive to foster renewable energy projects.
When visiting a wind park on Lake Nicaragua, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon called the park “very impressive.” He went on to say that Nicaragua “has vast potential of renewable energy resources—solar, wind, you have very strong, constant wind, and geothermal and hydro. You are quite lucky.”
All of this is made more impressive by the fact that only 10 years ago, the country suffered from rolling blackouts regularly.
“We were facing power rationing of up to 12 hours a day,” Lizeth Zuniga, executive director of the Renewable Energy Association of Nicaragua, said.
High oil prices made energy accessibility a bit difficult for the country, so in 2005, the government created incentives for renewable energy companies. They were given tax holidays, as well as free import of machinery.
“We were going to move from around 80 percent dependency on oil for our energy to around 80 percent dependency on renewables over the course of a 10-year period,” Javier Chamorro, head of export promotion agency ProNicaragua, said.
Investments flowed steadily into the country and Nicaragua’s renewable energy sector took off.
“They have made extraordinary headway,” Steven Scott, Ram Power’s investor relations chief, said. “Nicaragua has been known for many years as the land of lake and fire, and that translates into hydro and geothermal.”
Last year, 51 percent of the country’s energy came from renewable sources, and the goal is to reach 74 percent by 2017, and 90 percent by 2020.
What’s important to note, though, is the country still has massive renewable energy potential and is ripe for investors to make the stated goals a reality.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.