Coffee can generate electricity

When you sip that next cup of coffee, imagine the popular bean could energize more than you. For Latin America, harnessing that potential could be life-changing.

The coffee-growing business in Honduras is one of many rural-based business sectors that need electricity. The Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) has partnered with the U.S. government and the Dutch-based development agency SNV to reuse the pulp and mucilage byproducts of coffee beans as biofuel. The project also helps reduce negative effects of coffee production on the environment.

The coffee biofuels project is part of the Connecting the Americas 2022 (Connect 2022) initiative. Launched at the sixth Summit of the Americas in 2012 by Colombia and the United States, Connect 2022 set a 10-year goal of interconnecting the Western Hemisphere with the affordable electricity its citizens, businesses, schools and hospitals need.

The Inter-American Development Bank estimates power generation in Latin America and the Caribbean needs to double by 2030 in order to keep pace with growth. Currently, more than 31 million people in the region don’t have electricity, and the International Energy Association estimates the region’s power sector needs more than $700 billion in investments.

When the seventh Summit of the Americas takes place in Panama April 10–11, what new tasks will inspire ECPA’s innovative skills to to help meet the challenge of energy security in a way that promotes use of renewable energy sources?