Energy profile: El Salvador

From Global Energy Monitor


This page is part of Global Energy Monitor's Latin America Energy Portal.
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Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)

Source: IRENA
The 2020 fuel mix of El Salvador. Source: SIGET

In 2020, imported fossil fuels accounted for the majority of El Salvador's total energy supply, followed by smaller contributions from bioenergy, hydro, geothermal, and solar energy.[1][2]

Greenhouse gas emissions targets

Between 2015 and 2017, El Salvador's per capita greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels increased from 1.17 to 1.23 metric tons.[3] El Salvador is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change, which has influenced its contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement.[4][5]

El Salvador submitted an updated Nationally Determined Contributions document in January 2022 in which they set a 640 Kt CO2eq yearly reduction from fossil fuel burning activities by 2030 (compared to the 2019 business as usual scenario).[6]

Government energy agencies

National energy ministry

CNE (Consejo Nacional de Energía) is responsible for El Salvador's 2020-2050 energy plan.[1]

Permitting agencies

City councils, VMVDU (Vicministerio de Vivienda y Desarrollo Úrbano), MINSAL (Ministerio de Salud de El Salvador), MICULTURA (Ministerio de Cultura), MARN (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), SIGET (Superintendencia General de Electricidad y Telecomunicaciones), and the MH (Ministerio de Hacienda) can all be involved in the permitting process depending on the scope and longevity of an energy project.

Regulatory agencies

SIGET (Superintendencia General de Electricidad y Telecomunicaciones) is responsible for regulation of the power sector.

Electric utilities

ETESAL (Empresa Transmisora de El Salvador) is responsible for power transmission in El Salvador. CRIE (Comisión Regional de Interconexión Eléctrica) is responsible for the regional regulation of electricity in Central America.

National oil company

El Salvador does not have a national oil company.

Leading energy companies

As of 2018, 45.9% of all power generation in El Salvador was state owned.[1] CEL (Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroeléctrica del Río Lempa) and its subsidiaries LaGeo (geothermal), CECSA (Compañía Eléctrica Cucumacayán), and INE (Inversiones Energéticas) are major power generation companies.[1]

Energy sector employment data

In 2020, 22.06% of total employment in El Salvador was in the industry sector which includes mining, quarrying, electricity, gas, water, and construction.[7]

Electricity usage

Installed capacity

Source: IRENA

As of 2020, El Salvador's total installed electrical capacity was 2360 MW, fueled by a mix of fossil fuels (32.67%), hydro (24.31%), solar (20.10%), biomass (12.44%), geothermal (8.66%), wind (1.53%) and biogas (0.29%).[2] Electricity is supplied to El Salvador via the SIEPAC (Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica de los Países de América Central) which also connects to Honduras and Guatemala along a 230 kV central line.[1]


El Salvador produced 5895 GWh of electricity in 2020. Roughly 85% of the energy generated was derived from renewables, including hydro (35.05%), geothermal (24.60%), solar (15.26%), biomass (9.33%), biogas (0.45%) and wind (0.24%), while the remaining 15% came from fossil fuels.[2]


As of 2018, 97% of Salvadorans had access to electricity.[1] Maximum annual demand rose from 666 MW in 1997 to 1072 MW in 2018.[1]

Demand for electricity in El Salvador has grown in conjunction with the introduction of cryptocurrency as legal tender; notably geothermal power close to volcanoes will power Bitcoin mining.[8]

Source: IRENA


El Salvador's total electrical consumption during 2019 totaled 22,833 TJ (terajoules), with the industrial sector being the largest consumer.[1]

Coal in El Salvador

El Salvador does not produce or consume coal; accordingly it neither imports nor exports coal.[1][9]

Oil & Natural Gas in El Salvador

Domestic Production

El Salvador does not produce any oil or natural gas.[1]


69.4% of El Salvador's 2019 energy supply came from oil derivatives.[1]In 2016, El Salvador was consuming 52,000 barrels of oil per day, or 0.34 gallons of oil per capita daily.[10]

Imports & source countries

In 2019, El Salvador imported US$1.14 billion of refined petroleum and US$218 million of petroleum gas, primarily from the United States.[11]

Proposed new sources & projects

Energía del Pacífico is currently developing an ambitious LNG-to-power project on El Salvador's northwest coast that is expected to satisfy 30% of the country's energy requirements when completed in 2022. The project includes the 378 MW Pacífico Acajutla power station (El Salvador's first natural gas fired plant) and the Acajutla LNG Terminal (Central America's first floating storage and regasification unit).[12]

Renewable Energy in El Salvador

2020 The World Bank, Source: Global Solar Atlas 2.0, Solar resource data: Solargis.
Source: Twitter
Bitcoin City & Bitcoins Bonds announcement by El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele

Bioenergy (19.6%), hydropower (3.5%), geothermal (3.4%), and solar (1.1%) were El Salvador's top renewable sources as of 2019.[1] Electrical generation from sugar cane residue accounts for a large share of the bioenergy component.[13] Since adopting the Paris agreement, El Salvador has prioritized clean energy sources and system-wide improvements in energy efficiency.[1] Bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind, and ocean energy are the key renewable sectors receiving funding.[1] As of December 2020, El Salvador had adopted an action plan to increase the presence of renewable energy in the country.[14]

In 2022, El Salvador began a partnership with IRENA to move forward with renewable energy plans as part of national decarbonization efforts.[15] Geothermal development is a key aspect of El Salvador's plan.[16]

Bitcoin City

In November 2021, President Nayib Bukele announced the official plans for a Bitcoin City in El Salvador. The city plan renderings are for a circular (a nod to the shape of a coin) city next to the Conchagua volcano in the department of La Unión. Th geothermal plant in development will power the civil energy needs of the city in addition to providing the power for bitcoin mining.[17] The announcement was made by the President in English leading critics of the geothermally powered Bitcoin City to speculate on whether the city is for foreigners and not for Salvadorans.

Environmental & social impacts of energy in El Salvador

El Salvador is experiencing numerous effects from climate change, including extreme storms, hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.[18] Receding aquifers and drought have greatly impacted El Salvador's freshwater supply, which is further threatened by runoff from industry and power plants.[19] In March 2017, El Salvador imposed a blanket ban on metal mining to protect the country's fragile water resources.[20]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 "IRENA Renewable Readiness Assessment: El Salvador" (PDF). IRENA. December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Panorama Energético de América Latina y el Caribe 2021". OLADE. November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. "El Salvador: per capita CO2 emissions | Statista". Statista. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  4. CDKN (2016-05-02). "Paris climate agreement - El Salvador perspective". Climate and Development Knowledge Network. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  5. "Contribución Prevista y Determinada a Nivel Nacional de El Salvador" (PDF). Gobierno de El Salvador - Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN). November 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. "El Salvador". UNDP Climate Promise. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  7. "El Salvador - Employment In Industry (% Of Total Employment) - 1975-2020 Data | 2021 Forecast". Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  8. "El Salvador to Build Cryptocurrency-Fueled 'Bitcoin City'". Time. Retrieved 2021-11-29.
  9. "El Salvador Coal Reserves and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  10. "El Salvador Oil Reserves, Production and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  11. "El Salvador (SLV) Exports, Imports, and Trade Partners". Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  12. "Invenergy, BW complete FSRU financing for El Salvador LNG-to-power". Oil & Gas Journal. May 14, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. "Energía de Biomasa en ingenios azucareros fuente alternativa para El Salvador". El Norteño News. March 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. "El Salvador adopts action plan to accelerate renewables uptake". Power Engineering International. 2020-12-20. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  15. "El Salvador Eyes Major Renewables Push Under New Partnership with IRENA". /newsroom/pressreleases/2022/Jan/El-Salvador-Eyes-Major-Renewables-Push-Under-New-Partnership-with-IRENA. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  16. Colantuoni, Steve (2022-01-19). "Renewable energies in El Salvador will be promoted". The Central American Group. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  17. GeoEnergy, Think (2021-11-22). "El Salvador to build city financed by bitcoin and powered by geothermal". Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  18. "Climate Risk Profile: El Salvador". Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  19. "Environmental Issues in El Salvador". Panoramas. 2019-09-23. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  20. "El Salvador makes history as first nation to impose blanket ban on metal mining". the Guardian. 2017-03-30. Retrieved 2021-05-17.