Panama’s energy consumption is expected to rise by 5.8% during 2012 to a total of 1286.5 MW, according to a recent report published by the National Secretariat of Energy. Since the total electricity generation industry in Panama only produces 1320.5 MW, demand will very soon outstrip supply, and any unexpected peak in demand could cause problems, including possible brownouts.
The president of the National Consumer Union, Pedro Acosta has advised businesses and individuals to try to save energy and consume electricity more efficiently. For the last two years, Panama has imported energy (through power transmission links connecting the electrical distribution network to Costa Rica), after having spent decades as a nett exporter of energy. In 2010 the country imported 70.7 GWh and exported 38.9GWh. (net – 31.8 GWh imported) and in 2011, Panama imported 72.2 GWh and exported 8.1 GWh (net – 64.1 GWh imported).
56% of Panama’s domestic electricity is produced by hydroelectric power (928.6 MW), the balance comes from fossil fuels, coal (120MW), light diesel (294.8MW) and Bunker (555 MW).
Panama is building more hydro-electric power stations and looking into wind generation, but these all take time, and wind power is an unknown quantity – Panama has a century of experience with hydroelectric plants, as yet there are no wind farms and nothing but estimates of the power that they might be able to generate. A new power transmission link between Panama and Colombia is due to start construction later this year, allowing Panama to import electricity from Colombia if required, however, it will not be completed until 2015 (and there is now way of knowing how “green” any such energy would be).
If Panama is to continue to rely on an energy supply that is predominantly “green”m and not start experiencing power shortages it is vital that the country develop more hydroelectric plants and explores wind power as a matter of urgency. The current problems being caused by the inconsistent demands of the Ngäbe-Buglé peoples and the delays they are causing in he construction of new hydroelectric plants must be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.