This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 27, 2005

U.N. Finds Huge Solar and Wind Potential in Developing Countries

Thirteen developing countries hold the potential for thousands of megawatts (MW) of solar and wind power, according to the preliminary results of a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The UNEP announced in mid-April that its Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment (SWERA) project has found the potential for 26,000 MW of wind power in Sri Lanka, as well as 7,000 MW of potential wind power in Guatemala and 2,000 MW of potential wind power along Ghana's border with Togo. The project has also carried out studies in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, and Nicaragua. The $9.3-million project, largely supported by the Global Environment Facility, started in 2001.

One specific result of the project was the finding of significant wind power potential in Nicaragua, prompting the Nicaraguan National Assembly to pass a decree that gives wind-generated electricity priority over other options when fed into electricity grids. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency and Inter-American Development Bank have subsequently launched wind energy feasibility studies in Nicaragua, and two wind projects totaling 40 MW are now moving ahead. See the UNEP press release and the SWERA Web site.

DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is contributing to the project, which uses satellite data, ground-based instruments, and computer models to assess wind and solar energy resources in the 13 countries. Results from six of the countries are available on the NREL Web site.