Belize is developing sustainable energy project policies, which range from expanding biomass power to solar-based distributed power systems. Over the last 20 years, Belize has invested in domestically produced energy to strengthen and stabilize its energy sector. Investments in hydropower and recently in biomass, solar, and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) are driven by an increased emphasis on energy security. The Government of Belize is eager to enhance its energy sustainability and become a net exporter of energy to neighboring countries. Nonetheless, working in this sector can prove difficult, as U.S. firms have identified challenges in participating and competing in areas related to the bidding, procurement, and dispute settlement processes, particularly with state-owned entities (SOEs).
Renewable Energy and Electricity Infrastructure
Belize’s leading energy subsectors are looking to expand biomass and small-scale solar, as well as create new opportunities in electric vehicles, large-scale solar, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and waste-to-energy. The GOB is pursuing an initiative to convert sargassum seaweed to electricity and is seeking to promote additional similar projects. Belize remains a net-importer of electricity from Mexico, which makes energy imports expensive and unpredictable. Significant portions of Belize are not connected to the national grid, including tourist hotspots such as the cayes and eco-tourism lodges in the rainforest. These companies rely heavily on alternative energy sources, such as hydro and solar to supplement imported fuel. U.S. firms seeking to do business in the energy sector have routinely reported their frustrations with undue delays, weak and contradictory regulations, and a lack of transparency in how to implement projects.
Belize’s solar energy is currently limited to off-grid use, primarily by residential consumers, hotels, and resorts located in remote areas of the countries. The Government of Belize intends to encourage investment in utility solar-energy facilities, however, has not yet publicly announced a request for proposals. On a smaller scale, the Government of Belize also installed solar micro-grids and solar-powered streetlights in rural communities not yet connected to the national grid. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. development agency, is currently developing a project to boost electrical productivity, including an upgrade of operational efficiency.
The Government of Belize, along with the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) launched a pilot project introducing electric vehicles in 2022. The Belizean government eventually plans to purchase a fleet of electric buses to replace the 1960-1970s-era diesel school bus fleet that currently serves as the country’s primary public transportation network. The Ministry of Public Utilities installed the first of twelve National Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in the tourism-focused city of San Pedro in 2022.
- Belize Electricity Limited
- Belize Trade and Investment Development Service
- Government of Belize
- Belize Ministry of Finance
- Government of Belize Procurement Portal