An Alternative Power Development Plan for Guatemala

Alex Koberle
Thursday, June 28, 2012

In 2008, International Rivers’ staff visited communities that would be affected by Xalala Dam in Guatemala. We began documenting threats posed by more than 20 dams planned for Guatemala’s rivers. Guatemala also has a legacy of poor social and environmental standards on its past large dams. As with many developing countries, energy planning in Guatemala was marked by unrealistic expectations for growth in energy use, political pressure to develop large projects, and incomplete analysis of alternatives to meeting energy needs. Energy analyst Alex Koberle was commissioned to research how Guatemala could meet energy requirements while maintaining the health of its rivers.

The purpose of this study was to critically examine the government’s electricity development plans and to determine if there is a more sustainable and economically efficient solution to meet the country’s future electricity needs. We found that Guatemala’s energy needs until 2022 can be met with a combination of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy, eliminating the need for new coal or hydro capacity. Such an approach would guarantee Guatemala’s future energy supply at lower cost than what is being currently proposed, with the final result being cheaper electricity for the Guatemalan consumer.