Energy profile: Nicaragua

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)

Renewables - including wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, and hydro power - comprise roughly 73% of Nicaragua's total energy supply, with oil providing the remaining 27% as of 2019.[1] Fossil fuels play a larger role in electricity generation, accounting for 43.22% of the national total in 2019, followed by biomass (18.36%), geothermal (16.98%), wind (15.93%), hydro (4.95%), and solar (0.56%).[1] Nicaragua's original Nationally Determined Contribution proposal called for renewables to comprise 60% of installed electrical capacity by 2030[2]; this goal was revised upwards to 65% in 2020.[3] The government's CNDC website publishes regularly updated statistics on electricity generation by fuel type.[4]

2016 fossil fuel emissions by sector, Source: Worldometers

Greenhouse gas emissions targets

Nicaragua has one of the lowest CO2 emissions rates in Latin America, with 0.8 metric tons per capita in 2018.[5] Nicaragua refused to sign the Paris climate agreement until October 2017 on the grounds that the accord did not go far enough to tackle the problem of climate change.[6] Nicaragua has pledged to keep their change of per capita emissions between 2010 and 2030 to +1%.[7]

Government energy agencies & other key players

National energy ministry

MEM (Ministerio de Energía y Minas) is responsible for the entire energy sector including coordination, objective setting, policy making, and general directives.

Permitting agencies

MARENA (Ministerio del Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) develops policies and grants permits for any activity regulated by environmental law in Nicaragua.

MIFIC (Ministerio para el Fomento, la Industria y el Comercio) is responsible for granting concessions for water use in hydroelectricity projects less than 30MW.

Regulatory agencies

INE (Instituto Nicaragüense de Energía) is responsible for the regulation of the power and hydropower sectors.

Electric utilities

ENEL (Empresa Nicaragüense de Electricidad) is responsible for electrical generation, transmission, and distribution. ENATREL (Empresa Nacional de Transmisión Eléctrica) is the national company in charge of operation and maintenance of the electrical transmission system. FODIEN (Fondo para el Desarrollo de la Industria Eléctrica) designs, manages, and executes projects for rural electrification. CNDC (Centro Nacional de Despacho de Carga) is resonsible for the operation of the national interconnected electrical grid. Numerous NGOs are involved in rural energy concerns in Nicaragua.[8]

National oil company

In early 2020, Nicaragua began to plan for the creation of four state companies (Enigas, Eniplanh, Enicom, and Enih) to coordinate the importation, storage, distribution, and sales of oil and gas in Nicaragua.[9]

Energy sector employment data

In 2020, 15.58% of Nicaraguans worked in the industrial sector, which includes the energy sub sector.[10]

Electricity usage

Installed capacity

As of 2019, Nicaragua had 1619 MW of installed capacity, with fossil fuels comprising 54.84% of the total, followed by biofuels (13.47%), wind (11.50%), hydro (9.72%), geothermal (9.46%), and solar (1.01%).[1] The CNDC maintains up-to-date maps of electrical generation facilities and transmission lines in Nicaragua.[11]


Electrical generation by type of resource in May 2021, Source: CNDC

Nicaragua generated 4582 GWh of electricity in 2019, with nearly 57% coming from renewable sources.[1]


For 2021 and 2022, the maximum electrical demand on the national system is projected at 710 MW, with April being the most demanding month on the electrical system historically.[12]


As of 2016, Nicaragua's annual electricity consumption totaled 3590 GWh.[13]

Coal in Nicaragua

Nicaragua does not produce, consume, import, or export coal.[14]

Oil & Natural Gas in Nicaragua

Nicaragua does not produce oil.[6] The country ranks 115th for oil consumption globally, consuming 37,000 barrels daily during 2016 (approximately 0.25 gallons per capita).[15] In 2019, Nicaragua imported US$506 million worth of refined petroleum and US$254 million of crude petroleum, primarily from the United States and El Salvador.[16] The state-run company ENIH (Empresa Nacional de Exploración y Explotación de Hidrocarburos) was established in 2020 to focus on exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in Nicaragua.[9]

Source: Worldometers

Renewable Energy in Nicaragua

Key elements of Nicaragua's diversified renewables mix include geothermal heat from volcanoes, and biofuels such as sugar cane residue.[17] As the cost of solar energy continues to fall it will likely grow quickly, particularly in rural, impoverished areas.[17] Preliminary figures announced by Nicaragua's Minister of Energy and Mines show that renewables were responsible for 75.2% of energy generation in 2020, with geothermal (21%), wind (16%), hydro (15%) and biomass (14%) contributing the biggest share.[18]

Environmental & social impacts of energy in Nicaragua

Source: ACLED

Nicaragua is considered one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world.[19] Upon signing the Paris accord in 2017, the Nicaraguan government stated it was focused on green energy policies due to the environmental impacts the country was already experiencing from climate change, such as more frequent and more intense hurricanes.[6] Residents of rural areas are faced with both droughts and flooding, wreaking havoc on social stability.[19] The United Nations' World Food Program reports child malnutrition rates as high as 30%, in part brought on by climate change-related emergencies.[20]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Panorama Energético de América Latina y el Caribe 2020". OLADE. November 27, 2020.
  2. "Contribución Nacionalmente Determinada a la Mitigación del Cambio Climático (NDC) de la República Nicaragua ante la Convención Marco de Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático (CMNUCC)" (PDF). Gobierno de Reconciliación y Unidad Nacional. August 2018.
  3. "Contribución Nacionalmente Determinada de Nicaragua" (PDF). MARENA (Ministerio del Ambiente y Recursos Naturales). 2020.
  4. "Generación por Tipo de Recurso". CNDC. May 14, 2021.
  5. "IEA Energy Atlas". IEA. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Paris accord: US and Syria alone as Nicaragua signs". BBC News. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  7. "Nicaragua | Climate and Energy College". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  8. "Nicaragua Energy Situation -". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Nicaragua creates new fuel firms after December US sanctions". AP NEWS. 2021-05-07. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  10. "Nicaragua - Employment by economic sector 2010-2020 | Statista". Statista. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  11. "Sistema Interconectado Nacional - SIN". CNDC. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  12. "Demanda de Potencia de Generación Total Prevista del SIN (MW)" (PDF). CNDC. January 2021.
  13. "Nicaragua Electricity Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  14. "Nicaragua Coal Reserves and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  15. "Nicaragua Oil Reserves, Production and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  16. "Nicaragua (NIC) Exports, Imports, and Trade Partners". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Renewable Energy in Nicaragua | The Borgen Project". The Borgen Project. 2020-06-26. Retrieved 2021-05-19.
  18. "Nicaragua – over 98% electrification, 75% renewables supply". Smart Energy International. 2020-12-23. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Deutsche Welle ( "Caught between floods and drought: Farmers in Nicaragua living in uncertainty | DW | 12.06.2019". DW.COM. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  20. "Tough times for aid groups in Nicaragua". The New Humanitarian. 2020-09-02. Retrieved 2021-05-19.