One of the world's poorest countries is now a leader in renewable energy.

Honduras became the top producer of wind energy in Central America last week when the 102-megawatt Cerro de Hula wind farm went online, several months ahead of schedule.

The farm boasts 51 wind turbines sprawling across 4.7 square miles on two hills, named Hula and Izopo, 15 miles south of Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa. The turbines are Gamesa G87-2MW generators built and put in place by a joint venture between Gamesa and Iberdrola Engineering and Construction of Spain.

At full capacity, the wind farm could boost Honduras' energy supply by 10 percent, according to Gamesa's website. That could mean light and refrigeration for the approximately 36 percent of Hondurans who live without electricity.

“There may be many benefits for the people who live near the wind farm,” said Dania Bautista, a former resident of the area near Cerro de Hula, in an interview with Discovery News.

BIG PIC: Wind Power Without the Blades

“For one thing, although the towns near Cerro de Hula have electricity, the routes in between do not. … Many night school students have been robbed as they returned home,” said Bautista. “Hopefully more electricity will mean more lights and less danger from robberies and car accidents.”

Costa Rica-based Mesoamérica Energy owns the US$300 million wind farm via a local subsidiary, Energía Eólica de Honduras. That means that unlike previous publicly funded electricity infrastructure, such as the El Cajon dam, the Honduran people won't be saddled with more crippling national debt.

BLOG: A New Spin on Wind Turbines

"From the very start, [this project] felt right to me because what we bring to the country is something that makes sense. We're not bringing something bad; it is something clean, something of which I am proud. I would do this on a volunteer basis because I truly believe that it is the future … this is what needs to be done," said Jay Gallegos, CEO of Mesoamérica Energy, in Honduras Weekly.



Cerro de Hula wind farm, near Tegucigalpa, the first wind farm in Honduras. The first tests to generate wind power using Spanish technology have begun. The farm plans to produce about 102 megawatts per year. (Corbis)

Tejona wind farm, Lake Arenal, Costa Rica. (Wikimedia Commons)