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More supply security with hydropower-generated electricity

Group of people visiting a reservoir
(Photo: atmosfair)

Project Activity

Fluctuating grid voltage and power outages are not uncommon in the electricity grids of most developing countries. The Honduran municipality of Intibucá, whose capital is La Esperanza, is affected by such unreliable energy supply. To improve the supply situation and reduce the emissions generated in electricity production, a hydropower project managed by a local company, Consorcio de Inversiones S.A. (CISA), was launched on the banks of the Intibucá river near Honduras’ pacific coast.

German-based atmosfair gGmbH and the World Bank Community Development Carbon Fund support the project by buying emission certificates (CERs) generated in the prevention of greenhouse gases during project activities.

Using the river’s steep gradient, a chain of three hydropower plants was built along a stretch of the river. These provide a combined output capacity of 12.8 MW. To compensate for the strong fluctuation in the Intibucá’s flow, an earlier dam was refurbished to create a small reservoir. The environmental impacts of the project are marginal due to its small scale and the favourable natural conditions which allow the use of hydropower. Feeding of the generated electricity into the national grid increases the share of renewables-generated electricity and helps to stabilise grid voltage. Under the project, afforestation and infrastructure measures have also been implemented in efforts to promote sustainable development in the region.

Current Situation and Expected Emission Reductions

To quantify the emission reductions achieved with a CDM project, the expected reductions arising from the project must be compared with those that would have occurred if the project had not been implemented. In such cases, it is assumed that things would continue as at present. This is appropriate in that the region is supplied with electricity from the Honduran grid, which is largely generated using diesel-powered generators and involves high transmission losses across the area involved. If the project-generated electricity were produced and supplied in this way, annual emissions would amount to 37,031 tCO2e. Because hydropower-generated electricity is a zero emissions activity, these 37,031 tCO2e represent the annual emission reductions expected from the project.

Without the CDM, the La Esperanza hydropower project could not have been implemented. Because access to loans is difficult for small Honduran businesses, project operator CISA faced the daunting task of securing funding. Planning the activity as a CDM project helped show potential investors that it was credit-worthy, while the revenue accrued from the sale of the emissions certificates supplement the takings from the sale of the generated electricity.

Verifying Emission Reductions

The quantity of electricity fed into the national grid is measured during the entire project lifecycle. Taking account of the CO2 intensity of the national grid, it is possible to quantify the emission reductions actually achieved.

Project Implementation: Current Status

The project was registered with the CDM Executive Board in August 2005, and the first emissions certificates were issued in October that same year. Thus, together with another Honduran project, the La Esperanza activity is one of the first CDM projects in the world to generate CERs. Given both the positive contribution to sustainable development in the region and the favourable ecobalance, atmosfair was successful in obtaining Gold Standard certification for the project in 2008. Gold Standard is a quality label for particularly sustainable CDM projects.

Since the project was launched, four verification reports covering the period June 2003 to August 2009 have resulted in the issuance of some 103,000 emissions certificates. At its 62nd meeting in July 2011, the CDM Executive Board approved the issuance of a further 16,162 CERs. The carbon reductions actually achieved thus remain significantly below the expected amount, which can in part be explained by the extremely low rainfall in the period in question. After the first registered crediting period of 7 years, the project reached 119,625 CERs in total. The Operators successfully obtained approval to extend the project lifecycle, so on 23 March 2012 the project achieved renewal until 31 May 2017. The expected reductions for the second period amount 35,992 tCO2e a year.

Project Type:

CDM Small Scale

Project Partners:

Honduras: Consorcio de Inversiones S.A. (CISA)
Germany: atmosfair gGmbH; BASF SE


Erneuerbare Energien

Project Location:

La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras

Project Lifecycle:

First period: 7 years (implemented)
01.06.2003 – 31.05.2010

Second period: 7 years (in implementation)
01.06.2012 - 31.05.2017

Certified Emission Reductions:

First period: 119,625 tCO2e

Expected Emissions Reduction:

Second period: 35,992 tCO2e/year

Project Status:

Registered, in implementation

Point of Contact:

Robert Müller
Atmosfair gGmbH
Zossener Straße 55-58
10961 Berlin
Tel.: +49 (0)30 627355016

Markus Dimmler
Benckiserplatz 1
67056 Ludwigshafen
T +49 621 60-55372
F +49 621 60-54520