Belize: Energy Resources
|Energy Consumption||0.02 Quadrillion Btu|
|2-letter ISO code||BZ|
|3-letter ISO code||BLZ|
|Numeric ISO code||084|
|UN Region||Central America|
|Energy Maps||47 view|
|Energy Organizations||1 view|
|Research Institutions||0 view|
|CIA World Factbook, Appendix D|
|Wind Potential||737||Area(km²) Class 3-7 Wind at 50m||62||1990||NREL|
|Coal Reserves||Unavailable||Million Short Tons||N/A||2008||EIA|
|Natural Gas Reserves||0||Cubic Meters (cu m)||201||2010||CIA World Factbook|
|Oil Reserves||6,700,000||Barrels (bbl)||93||2010||CIA World Factbook|
Energy Maps featuring Belize
Policy and Regulatory Overview 
In Belize, 85% of the total households have electricity; almost 100% of the urban areas (Belize, Corozal and Orange Walk districts) have light, and 49.59% of the rural area (mostly the Stann Creek and Toledo Towns and villages).Even though Belize is making an effort to electrify its rural communities, partially causing a rise in energy demand estimated at 9% per year, there are still a large amount of households without electric services. Electrification is expected to expand in line with an expected rise in electricity demand. Some of the rural communities that lack electricity are situated in areas that are not easily accessible to the transmission network. Therefore there might be a need to assess whether off-grid solutions could be more cost effective for these communities.
There are very few companies dealing in renewable energy technologies (RETs) in Belize. Solar energy systems are extremely small and a modest number of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were deployed under the auspices of several international initiatives. For example, a solar PV project was deployed in the remote rural community of San Benito Poite village in southern Belize. The project sponsored the installation of one 100-watt solar panel power system and its ancillary equipment in every home. Solar water heaters are found in some areas only as the result of small pilot projects.The 31.5MW Belize Cogeneration Energy Limited (BELCOGEN) facility that came on line in January 2010 features 27.5MW based on bagasse supplemented by heavy fuel oil (HFO), together with 4 MW using HFO exclusively. The facility will provide 13.5MW of base load capacity to Belize Electricity (BEL), accounting for approximately 20% of total demand in the country. The timing of BELCOGEN’s start-up is very opportune. BEL has relied on imports from Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) for up to 45% of supply, but in late 2009, CFE announced that it would cancel the contract due to supply constraints in Mexico. While BELCOGEN will use fossil fuels to supplement the bagasse, there is no question that its operation will result in a net displacement of fossil-fired capacity.
Canada's Fortis expects to submit a compensation claim to Belize's government over the expropriation of the company's stake in Belize Electricity (BEL). In June 2011 the government expropriated Fortis' approximate 70% stake in the utility. In its latest quarterly financials, Fortis said it has commissioned an independent valuation of its previous investment in BEL and commenced an action in the Belize supreme court to challenge the expropriation.The Canadian utility continues to own hydro generator Becol (51MW) in Belize, and reported the country's prime minister has stated the government has neither the intention nor the resources to expropriate Becol.
Total installed electricity capacity (2010): 89 MWHydropower & biomass: 64%Electricity imported from Mexico: 33.1%Diesel & crude oil: 2.9%Diesel generators still provide approximately 4 % of the total electricity consumption. These are mostly used in remote off grid areas and the cayes.Primary Energy Sources (2009)Fossil Fuel (imported): 66%Biomass: 26%Electricity (imported): 5%Hydro: 3%Wind and Solar: 0.3%
The Electricity Act requires the PUC to: ensure that all reasonable electricity needs are met; ensure that license holders are able to finance the business for which they are licensed; protect the interests of consumers in general and, in particular, in rural areas. The PUC is responsible for "economic regulation, quality and continuity of service, and security and safety" of the electricity sector. It also provides advice to the MCTPU on electricity industry matters. The PUC is mandated to enforce the Electricity Act and any related regulations.The Electricity Act allows the PUC to establish regulations and bylaws on any matters in the industry, including the methodologies by which license holders may charge their customers. The Act does not define any such methodology. The PUC has, however, established a "tariff and rate setting methodology" in the Statutory Instrument 60, of 2001. The services for which fees can be charged are: transmission, distribution and supply, installations, rentals, and removals. The PUC can also facilitate the resolution of disputes between participants in the electricity industry.The legislation does not contemplate tax incentives for those who generate electricity by means of renewable energy technologies.
Belize’s electricity market is liberalized and regulated. Vertical integration is allowed but the regulator is mandated to encourage competition in generation. The distribution/transmission market is dominated by a single privately owned bundled supplier (BEL), who by law must provide transmission facilities to any generator capable of paying its fees. Apart from BEL, there are a small number of IPPs (BECOL and CFE). BEL is the main transmitter, supplier, seller and distributor of electricity. It is a Limited Corporation owned by Fortis Incorporated of Canada (67%), the Social Security Board (25%) and small shareholders (8%). Current licensing agreements extend to 2015, and BEL has the right of first refusal on any subsequent license grant.
Belize has great potential for energy efficiency improvements. There is considerable room for improvement in the various energy sub sectors. The major sectors for energy conservation include:TransportIndustry and commercial buildingsHouseholds and institutionsAgricultureTechnical losses in generation and distribution are estimated at 11% to 13%. Although an historical analysis of peak demand and losses denotes an improvement in these rates over the last 10 years, there is still a need to reduce technical losses to 7%. On the other hand, peak demand analysis shows the need to heighten consumer awareness with regard to energy efficiency.
Belize is faced with the challenge of high energy costs and fossil fuel dependence, high energy imports, increasing environmental impacts, inadequate energy policies, antiquated infrastructure and technologies, outdated production techniques, an under-qualified labour market and inadequate energy data.
Currently, Belize does not have a dedicated Government agency for the promotion of sustainable energy. The PUC, under the National Energy Plan project, advised the Belizean Government to promote sustainable energy use and renewable energy source uptake.
Electricity market Following the reform and consolidation of the power sector in 1992, BEL became the main generator, distributor, and transmitter of electricity in the country. However, BEL is required by law to provide transmission facilities to any generator capable of paying its fees; it purchases power from Mexico’s CFE, BELCOGEN (bagasse), Belize Electric Company Limited (BECOL) and Hydro Maya Limited (HML) (hydroelectric), and Belize Aquaculture Limited (BAL) (HFO). The Farmers Light Plant Cooperative in Spanish Lookout serves a small local grid of 480 customers. In 2009, CFE cancelled its firm PPA with BEL because it no longer had enough generation capacity to supply Belize in addition to Mexico. CFE continues to supply BEL with power as available; because Belize has sufficient in-country generation to meet demand, BEL only purchases power from Mexico when it is more economical than in-country generation. (www.bel.com.bz).Oil marketBelize is one of two oil producers in the region, along with Guatemala. In 2006, an Irish-owned company, Belize Natural Energy (BNE), formally announced a commercial oil find at Spanish Lookout, with reserves estimated at 10 million barrels. BNE is Belize’s only petroleum-producing company and is pumping 5,000 barrels of oil per day from ten wells.Belize’s wholesale and retail markets are open to multiple importers, but currently only Esso has the authority and the facilities to import oil for commercial consumption. Two other authorities are licensed to import, BEL and a private wholesaler, but for the most part they do not access the general retail market. Esso supplies Texaco Belize Limited and Shell Belize Limited for commercial sales. Fuel is transported over land by small- and large-capacity tank trucks (3,000 to 10,000 gallons). (www.belizenaturalenergy.bz).
Degree of independence
The Board of the PUC consists of the Chairman and four Commissioners. In statute, the PUC is autonomous. However, public perception is that independence from the government is low.
Integration frameworks with which Belize is associated or affiliated include: the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Project, and the Caribbean Energy Information System (CEIS). Sustainable development alliances include: Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development (ALIDES), the CARICOM Sustainable Development Task Force, and the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change (CPACC), the Caribbean Association of Electrical Utilities (CARILEC), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Central American Commission on Environment and Development, the National Council for Sustainable Development (COADES) in Central America.Given Belize’s long-standing participation and membership in the Caribbean Community it has pursued deeper integration within CARICOM than it has done within Central America. Thus, Belize is part of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Project and the Caribbean Energy Information System (CEIS) but does not participate actively in the Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica de Países de América Central (SIEPAC), or ALURE, a cooperation program between the European Union and Latin America in the energy sector; one of the aims of which is to “improve the growth sub-sectors of electricity and natural gas”.Belize, along with twelve other Caribbean states, is a participant in the Caribbean Community’s Renewable Energy Development Project (CREDP), which aims to remove barriers to renewable energy use in the region in terms of policy, finance, capacity and awareness. Since 2009, Belize has also been participating in the Caribbean Information Platform on Renewable Energy (CIPORE) in order to share information on renewable energy projects and learn from other countries.
In 2004, the national energy plan for Belize was presented; it included analysis of the energy sector and made policy recommendations to promote several forms of sustainable energy, such as a renewable energy portfolio standard and minimum local generation standard. However, the country has no renewables-specific policies, either as a part of a comprehensive energy strategy or specific to the electricity sub-sector.Short of policies, Belize has taken some actions to encourage renewables investment, including developing an investor’s information packet. A national renewable energy education and awareness program aims to communicate the overall goals of the government. Also, several initiatives to encourage solar water heaters and small PV and wind systems have been developed. A comprehensive renewable energy training initiative with the purpose of increasing utility staff and project developers’ capacity to develop and utilize these resources has been established.Belize does not currently have an energy efficiency law or an entity specifically responsible for related policies and programs. The government would like to implement a comprehensive energy-efficiency training program for utility personnel, hotel developers and engineers, potential entrepreneurs, and other relevant stakeholders. It is planning to revise building codes to include potential energy saving design features and may conduct a study of energy end-use practices in all sectors in collaboration with BEL and an organization experienced in conducting surveys.
Roughly 75% of total energy demand is supplied through foreign sources. Fossil fuels are imported by two companies: Esso Standard Oil S.A. Limited, the only private company in Belize authorized to import fuel, and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), which also imports diesel fuel from Mexico. Roughly 50% of the electricity consumed is imported from Mexico. An interconnection between the national grids of Belize and Mexico allows the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), a state-owned utility, to sell electricity to Belize’s BEL.
Role of the government
The institutional framework put in place in the mid-1980s has not changed significantly. Most of the institutional deficiencies posing major obstacles in improving the energy sector still exist, particularly the absence of one single authority responsible for formulating and coordinating energy sector policy. Energy governance is the complex set of processes and control relationships that occurs between various players. In the energy sector of Belize, these players include parliament, cabinet, ministries dealing with energy and power issues, the Minister of Public Utilities, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), various government departments at the national, provincial and local levels, energy suppliers, energy consumers, the regulator, other stakeholders (including organized labor, civic organizations, NGOs, researchers, consultants, financiers, contractors, equipment manufacturers and marketers), and foreign donor agencies and organizations. The range of players and the complexity of their relationships make energy sector governance difficult to understand in Belize.
Electricity legislation provides the legal framework for the PUC to carry out its duties and functions in the sector: the Electricity Act (No. 13 of 1992), (the “Act”), as amended by Act (No. 40 of 1999) and Act (No. 12 of 2007) and the Electricity (Tariffs, Charges and Quality of Service Standards) Byelaws, 2005 (the “Byelaws”). The Byelaws govern the tariffs, rates, charges and fees for the transmission and supply of electricity and for existing and new services to be charged by a licensee to consumers in Belize, and the mechanisms, formulas, and procedures whereby such tariffs, rates, charges and fees shall be calculated and determined for all purposes. They also govern the quality of service standards (service reliability) for existing and new services at any time provided or to be provided by a licensee, and the mechanisms, formulas and procedures whereby such services shall be calculated and determined for all purposes. Further, the Byelaws reference the methodology used for Review Proceedings.
Low public awareness on RETs’ real potential and technical constraints.Immature RET markets due in part to the inability to finance higher initial capital costs.Lack of mechanisms to monitor standards and ensure quality of RETs (poor quality of some technologies reduces lifetime and damages image of RETs. Applies also to improved stoves).Inadequate financing mechanisms and other incentives to facilitate investment, communication, promotion and dissemination of RETs and improved stoves.Inadequate data on the potential of indigenous renewable energy sources.Lack of awareness among end energy users about energy conservation.Lack of demand-side management policies.Lack of incentives including financing mechanisms to invest in modern, efficient technologies.Lack of specialized and skilled manpower in energy management.
Inspection and regulation of all market and economic activity in the electricity industry is the responsibility of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Electricity pricing in particular is well regulated and codified in a number of laws including the “Amended 1992 Electricity Act, the Public Utilities Commission Act” of 1999, and the Electricity Tariffs, Charges and Quality of Service Standards By-Laws of 2001.http://www.puc.bz
In Belize there is a need to produce more electricity to meet the rising electricity needs and minimize the need to import power from Mexico. Renewable Energy may have the potential to provide more power at acceptable prices, job opportunities and the building of skills and expertise. The utilization of other renewable energy sources would also create a more diversified energy sector and provide a greater security of energy supply.Hydropower generation alone will not be able to meet Belize’s need for rising electricity demand Presently, with the exception of biomass, only a small fraction of the country’s renewable energy potential is exploited. Biomass (firewood and bagasse) plays some role in Belize’s energy supply.Hydropower energyBelize has gradually started to utilize its hydropower potential. Even though the potential hydropower resource is relatively small, there are sites that offer options for further hydropower development without the need to inundate large areas of rainforest for storage reservoirs. A 2006 study of Belize’s hydropower potential identified several possible hydropower schemes for Belize. A list of the possible projects is listed below:Chalillo II ProjectBetween the existing Chalillo dam and the Mollejon dam, there is an unused gross head (drop) of about 95 m. The development of a project on this site is estimated to have a potential capacity of 16 MW.Mopan RiverA project consisting of a cascade system along the Mopan River has been considered to have a hydropower potential of 15-20 MW. The Mopan valley is easily accessible by road and provided with transmission lines. The environmental impact of a project in the Mopan Valley is estimated to be almost insignificant, but might require some resettlement or adaptation of existing human and tourist activities.Macal River project, downstream of Vaca Falls 23 km, downstream of Vaca Falls there is a slope of 0.13% on a 32 m head. There is a possibility of installing low-head turbines to generate a maximum of 8.4 MW. The site is easily accessible and in proximity to lines of the national power network.Solar energy Solar PV could be an economically viable option, particularly considering the future in crude oil prices. Belize’s average solar radiation in an optimal tilt angle is roughly estimated at 2,000-3,000 kWh/m2 per year. Taking into consideration the cost of deploying current technologies, solar generation would cost between 0.20 and 0.50 US$/kWh. This cost could drop to 0.10 US$/kWh by 2020. In addition to households, large scale solar PV systems could contribute significantly to power the industrial sector. Solar PV home systems typically consist of one 40 to 60 Watts-peak (Wp) module and one battery, which are highly cost-effective considering Belize’s climate and solar radiation values. National legislation does not contemplate tax incentives for the generation of electricity by means of photovoltaic systems.Wind energy Estimated mean wind velocity at 80 meters above ground is approximately 7 to 8m/s. Assuming an average velocity of 6 m/s, electricity generation costs are calculated at 0.05 to 0.10 US$/kWh for off-grid systems. Some studies suggest that Belize’s potential for wind power is some 20 MW. However, no comprehensive study on wind generation capacity has been conducted nationwide. The Baldy Beacon area shows considerable potential for wind power generation.Paradise Technology Solutions have developed a Sustainability Plan to assist the Belizean Government in achieving “a disciplined approach to Sustainable Growth”. Amongst other activities, there is a proposal for the development of a 40 MW wind or solar farm is planned. The aim is to provide enough renewable energy to substitute imported oil for energy production.Geothermal energy Belize has a very low potential for geothermal resources. However, neighbouring countries such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have great geothermal potential, which they could export in the form of electricity to Belize. The government of Belize should explore agreements with those countries with the aim of gaining access to cheaper, clean electricity.
- Belize-Low-Carbon Energy for Central America: Building a Regional Model
- Belize-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy
- Belize-Regional Implementation Plan for CARICOM’s Climate Change Resilience Framework
- CDKN-CARICOM-A Regional Implementation Plan for CARICOM’s Regional Climate Change Resilience Framework
- Belize-OAS Cellulosic Ethanol Market Assessment
- view all
1 Energy Organizations
1 Clean Energy Companies
0 Research Institutions
<metadesc> Belize: energy resources, incentives, companies, news, and more. </metadesc>