Costa Rica is a small country and has a population of less than 5 million. It’s rich with biodiversity, wildlife, and nature and it is blessed with an abundance of free-flowing water which it uses to generate more than 78% of the electricity it needs. It is committed to getting 100% renewable energy by the end of this year.
According to National Energy Control Center, REVE 99.62% of Costa Rica’s electricity came from renewables in 2019, of which 78.26% came from hydro, 10.29% from wind turbines, 10.23% from geothermal energy, and 0.84% from solar. However, despite the nearly 100% RE electricity production, around 70% of the country’s overall energy still comes from oil and gas, which is still widely used for transport, heating processes in the industry, as well as for activities like cooking.
Costa Rica’s ultimate goal is to have 100% carbon neutrality by the end of 2020 and to provide complementary support to the national efforts towards decarbonization and a sustainable and low emissions energy system, with a focus on renewable energy. From a global perspective, the project aims to further cement Costa Rica’s role as a leader in achieving the global energy transition and full decarbonization. The country can act as a lighthouse for the international community in its efforts to implement the Paris Agreement and achieve a fair energy transition.
Costa Rica’s national utility company, Grupo ICE, says that it does not foresee an expansion of demand for electricity beyond current capacity but will look to add geothermal resources as existing facilities reach the end of their expected service life. Going forward, the utility will de-emphasize further expansion of hydroelectric power in favor of more wind, solar, and geothermal capacity. Part of the reason is that the hydro facilities are located far from the population centers and require significant infrastructure investment to transport the electricity they generate to the national grid.
Hazel Cepeda Hodgson, the utility’s General Manager, said: “While Grupo ICE will not enter into the construction of new projects in the coming years, the analysis and planning of the energy matrix dictate that by 2027, let’s review if we must undertake a new project at the end of the useful life of some of our plants. If so, it would be in geothermal energy where there is great potential.”
ICE operates 6 geothermal facilities.
Hoping that Costa Rica’s success with cutting carbon emissions and developing renewable energy will influence other countries to follow. Although not every country has the hydroelectric resources that Costa Rica has, they can still follow their positive attitude towards protecting the environment. Costa Rica is an excellent example of a sustainable country, it has been exporting surplus electricity to the region since 1982, according to ICE, last year between January and August, this business was worth some USD 7.2 million from the export of 137.2 GWh.
And if any nation wants to know how to reduce emissions and increase renewable energy, they should look to what Costa Rica has done.