The region has a total installed geothermal capacity of 1.2 GW (electricity and thermal combined), representing 1.4% of the world’s geothermal capacity. Top countries per installed capacity include: Brazil (360 MWt), El Salvador (204 MWe and 3.36 MWt), Costa Rica (202 MWe, 1 MWt), Argentina (163.60 MWt), Nicaragua (155 MWe) and Guatemala (49 MWe, 2.31 MWt). Top producing countries include Brazil (direct use – 1,840 GWh), El Salvador (electricity – 1,558 GWh, direct use – 16 GWh), Costa Rica (electricity – 1,538 GWh, direct use – 5.83 GWh), Nicaragua (electricity – 662 GWh), Argentina (278 GWh) and Guatemala (electricity – 247 GWh, direct use – 16 GWh).

There are plenty geothermal resources in the region and various bilateral and regional technical and financial support schemes have been established for geothermal energy development, such as regional Central American GIZ 4e initiative, the capacity building project of the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) and the Nordic Fund (NDF), bilateral support of Iceland in Nicaragua and the Geothermal Andes initiative of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Several countries in the region have set national geothermal targets, such as El Salvador with plans to source 40% of energy from new geothermal power by 2020, or Nicaragua with plans to build 100 MW in the next 15 years.

Costa Rica has two geothermal power plants in operation, whose electricity contributes with 15% to the national energy mix. Other sites considered for exploration include Pailas, Borinquen and Pocosol. El Salvador has also two geothermal power plants and further sites for resource assessment include Chinameca, San Vicente and Lago Coatepeque. Nicaragua has geothermal power plants, Momotombo and San Jacinto. Further research is conducted at Casita-San Cristóbal, Managua-Chiltepe, El Hoyo-Monte Galán and Volcán Cosigüina. Guatemala’s geothermal power capacity comes from two power plants and further development is underway in El Ceibillo. Bolivia has an estimated geothermal potential of 120 to 300 MW, and geothermal power plants are expected to come online between 2017 and 2018. Estimates of geothermal potential in Chile include electricity generation in the order of 16 GW for 50 years with temperatures exceeding 150°C, withdrawn from a depth less than 3,000 m. The first geothermal power plant in the country is being built in the region of Antofagasta, Cerro Pabellón and consists of two units of 24 MW each and an estimated electricity production of 340 MWh per year.

Geothermal energy is also exploited in the Caribbean islands, but in Guadeloupe is the most developed with a power plant of 15 MW in operation. Drilling activities are underway in several islands such as St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Nevis and Montserrat.

Geothermal Production

Geothermal Installed Capacity1.2GW

Geothermal Production553ktoe per year

Geothermal Installed Capacity by region

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Geothermal Installed Capacity by country

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Top Geothermal producing countries

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