Energy profile: Dominican Republic
Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)
Fossil fuels - including oil, natural gas, and coal - supply most of the Dominican Republic's energy, supplemented by smaller amounts of renewables, including biofuels, hydro, wind, and solar. The DR depends on oil for electricity generation more than any other country in Latin America and the Caribbean; as of 2017, 52% of electricity was generated from oil (down from 89% in the 1980s and 90s), while 21% and 13% came from natural gas and coal, respectively. Renewable sources accounted for less than 12% of electrical generation in 2019. The country aims to produce 25% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.
Greenhouse gas emissions targets
The Dominican Republic's Nationally Determined Contribution (2020 revision) calls for a 27% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 relative to business as usual, up from 25% in the country's original NDC. Between 1990 and 2013, greenhouse gas emissions in the Dominican Republic increased by 368%; the majority of emissions (61.9%) were generated by the energy sector.
Government energy agencies & other key players
National energy ministry
CNE (Comisión Nacional de la Energía) is the policy making agency responsible for creating and upholding the Dominican Republic's national energy plans.
The Dominican environmental ministry (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) issues environmental permits and licenses, and is responsible for the protection, preservation, and sustainable use of the country's natural resources.
SIE (Superintendencia de Electricidad) is the regulatory agency for Dominican energy.
CDEEE (Corporación Dominicana de Empresas Eléctricas Estatales) is a holding company that brings together all Dominican government-owned generation, transmission, and distribution companies, as well as government electrical programs. Electricity is then publicly distributed through either Edenorte, Edesur, or Edeeste.
Leading energy companies
Haina Basic Energy Ltd. and Itabo are two important private power generation companies.
Energy sector employment data
The DR has a high incidence of power outages compared to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Blackouts are generally seen as resulting from poor transmission and distribution infrastructure, rather than inadequate generation capacity, though service disruptions at power plants also contribute to the problem. As of 2021, the Dominican Republic is planning to generate more electricity, with proposed new projects in Manzanillo, Monte Cristi and Puerto Plata slated to add up to 1000 MW of capacity.
Average peak electrical demand during 2020 was approximately 2000 MW. Electricity demand is very high in tourist areas, leading to the granting of concessions for private generation and distribution.
Coal in the Dominican Republic
No coal is produced in the Dominican Republic. The country consumes over a million short tons of imported coal annually. More than 80% of imports come from Colombia and approximately 15% from the United States, followed by smaller amounts from Peru, Germany, Spain, China, Mexico, and France.
Oil & Natural Gas in the Dominican Republic
Prior to 2019, less than 100 oil wells had been drilled in the Dominican Republic over the preceding century, with domestic production peaking at 30,000 bpd in the 1950s. The DR has not recorded any domestic production in recent years, but in 2019 the government announced that it would auction off exploration and development rights to 14 onshore and offshore oil blocks.
133,000 barrels of oil were consumed daily in the DR during 2016.
Imports & source countries
The DR's imports of oil from the United States have increased in recent years, while imports from Venezuela and Mexico have significantly decreased. During the first eight months of 2019, 61.4% of the DR's hydrocarbon imports came from the United States, followed by smaller amounts from the Netherlands (9.7%), Trinidad and Tobago (9.1%), Nigeria (7.9%), and other countries.
Proposed new sources & projects
The DR has wanted to produce oil for many years, and exploratory operations for Dominican petroleum in the Caribbean are slated to begin in 2021. The country has also expanded its natural gas infrastructure in recent years, with the conversion of several power plants from oil to gas and the development of new projects including the 50-kilometer Eastern Gas Pipeline and the expansion of capacity at the Andrés LNG Terminal.
Renewable Energy in the Dominican Republic
Solar photovoltaics, wind, and bioenergy are leading the renewable energy changes in the DR. Between 2018 and 2026, the CDEEE will be constructing at least eight renewable energy generation projects. Generous tax incentives are provided to investors in the renewable energy sector. The growth of renewable energy in the Dominican Republic is supported by the legal framework which includes the General Electricity Law 125-01, Renewable Energy Incentives Law 57-07, General Law on Environment and Resources Law 64-00, and net metering legislation.
As of July 2021, the largest solar plants in the Caribbean were located in the Dominican Republic. The Sabana Real region near the Haitian border and other remote and/or low income communities are anticipating that an increase in solar power will be able to improve access to reliable and affordable electricity.
Iron & Steel in the Dominican Republic
Iron and steel account for 4% of exports from the Dominican Republic. The DR is known for its production of ferronickel. In 2019, the Dominican Republic exported its iron and steel products primarily to the United States, Antigua & Barbuda, and Jamaica. In 2020, US$190 million was invested in the iron and nickel industry.
Local communities with concerns about environmental impact have to contend with businesses that are usually aligned with the government. A 2016 survey found that 80% of the total Dominican population is opposed to mining projects that are invasive to the environment such as in Loma Miranda. For every 200 persons employed in the mining sector approximately 15,000 are negatively impacted. Toxic heavy metals have been found in the coal ash of the Punta Catalina Plant. The associated health effects for local communities of unregulated plants include cancer, asthma, brain damage, higher infant mortality, neurological illness, and kidney damage. Additionally, pollution from power plants also detracts from agricultural endeavors and the fishing industry.
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