Geothermal is important element in renewable energy future of Costa Rica

Miravalles geothermal plant and solar plant (source: ciee.org)
Alexander Richter 21 Eki 2015

Geothermal energy is an important element of Costa Rica's renewable energy future and a seventh geothermal is plant to be operational by 2019.

Costa Rica has seen a lot of attention in renewable energy circles for its electricity supply, which is nearly fully derived from renewable energy sources. “From January to October, we produced 98.7% of our electricity from renewable energy”, says Elbert Duran, communications director of the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE).

An article by French paper Le Monde looks at Costa Rica and its ambitions to become the first CO2 neutral nation by 2021.

“Next year, the country plans to achieve 100% green electricity. “Hydropower is the first source of electricity in the country, located in a very rainy tropical zone says Mr. Duran. But global warming and the weather phenomenon El Niño threaten the regularity of rains. To avoid to use fossil fuel pollutants, ICE has had to diversify its production of clean energy. ”

“By the 1980s, the country has been a pioneer in Latin America in research in wind energy.” Costa Rica has nine wind farms and plans to build eight more by 2017. Wind is the third source electric power after the steam from the bowels of the earth.

Another pillar of Costa Rica’s energy supply is geothermal. The five plants of the Miravalles geothermal field are connected with 42 km of pipes that connect the turbines to the 25 producing wells, drilled more than 1600 meters deep. “Hot water and steam generate 163.5 MW of electricity,” says Eddy Sanchez, director of the center geothermal resources ICE.

Right next to the plant Miravalles III, 4300 photovoltaic panels glisten in the sun. On 22,000 m 2, their capacity is 1 MW. “This experimental plant was offered to us by the Japanese government,” says Sanchez. Solar, hydro, wind, geothermal … The plants are all connected to the Energy Control Centre (Cence), located in San José, the capital.

The energy challenge in the dry season: “Water, sun and wind are variable resources that vary depending on the weather. With more than 100 volcanoes, of which five active, geothermal is a much more stable option, “says the Director of ICE, Salvador Lopez.

ICE has launched the project of a seventh geothermal plant, scheduled in 2019 on the slopes of Rincon de la Vieja volcano, northwest of the country. The country’s geothermal potential is nevertheless limited to 850 megawatts, according to ICE. Without counting the cost of electricity produced from renewable energy still costs much more expensive than from fossil fuels.

Source: Le Monde