Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Stephen Zavestoski

Second Advisor

Dana Zartner


Central America is undertaking a vast Renewable Energy (RE) transition, due to widespread investments across the region in an array of technologies. These technologies include Community Solar, Wind, and Hydroelectricity. Hydroelectricity has long been the backbone of many countries’ energy grids in the region due to the region’s long history with hydroelectricity. Ambitious climate goals coupled with diminishing hydroelectric power generation opportunities have led to an expansion of investment in Community Solar and Wind energy. The embrace of Solar and Wind has been accelerated due to declining costs for these technologies as they mature. Central America as a case study adds an interesting perspective to the growing RE literature, as the region is attempting to achieve national electrification goals while also diversifying their electricity generation capacity to include more renewable sources. While the Global North is transitioning to RE sources, their electricity grids have long been built and supplied by fossil fuels. In essence, this two-pronged transition is occurring to different degrees in each Central American country, which allows for a rich literature debate to occur. To ground this transition in theory this thesis engages with literature ranging from the Global North vs Global South, achieving Energy Independence, Energy Poverty, and Income Inequality, Asset-based vs. Livelihoods Development Approaches, Indicators implementation and contestation, and Narratives of the Future. Finally, this thesis will highlight a series of specific projects in each country, highlighting project maps of all projects within the criteria. This thesis will conclude with a review of the RE transition, as well as possible next steps and areas of improvement for the RE transition.