Since achieving independence in 1981, Belize’s energy sector has evolved from one that was heavily dependent on fossil fuels to now very much diverse with significant sources of renewable energy. Currently, the country gets its energy from four main sources: imported fossil fuels, imported electricity, locally generated hydro-electricity, and biomass energy. While close to half of the total existing power is derived from hydro source, there exists a visible gap for further expansion of the renewable sources, in replacement of the often costly and unpredictable fossil derivative (fuel).
As a nation with abundant land resources, there is considerable potential to nurture a variety of renewable ventures, such as the development of biomass energy through the burning of sugar cane by-product — the bagasse. Besides, Belize is favorably positioned to aficionados with interests in cashing out of the sun (solar power), the water (hydro power), and the wind (wind power) resources:
- Wind Power refers to using wind turbines to generate electricity. As an example, according to the Central America Wind Resource Map, it was estimated that Belize has approximately 3,500 square miles of offshore marine water area with moderate-to-excellent wind resource up to 70 miles off the coastline. (source: Belize National Energy Policy Framework 2011)
- Solar Power refers to the capturing and conversion of sunlight to produce electricity. According to the Central America Solar Map, about 65% of Belize’s land area receives 5.0 to 5.5 Kilowatt hours (KWh) per square meter of sunshine per day (source: Belize National Energy Policy Framework 2011). To put this in context, using a 60-watt light bulb for one hour would consume 0.06 kilowatt hours of energy. By the same token, 5.0 KWh would allow for at least 83 hours of energy for this light bulb.
- Hydro Power refers to using water to generate electricity. In 1990, a comprehensive study of Belize’s hydro-electric power potential was commissioned by Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), and conducted by a Canadian consulting firm. At that time, the consultant found that Belize had approximately 70 MW of developable hydro potential, capable of yielding 330,000 MWh of annual energy. (source: Belize National Energy Policy Framework 2011)
In an era when the fossil fuel source continues to hit record-high price, Belize is well-positioned to harness extensive breeds of renewable, and greener energy sources that are sustainable for the longer-term — such is also the key to long-term prosperity!