January 9th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Approximately 93% of Costa Rica’s electricity is produced using renewable resources. Seventy-six percent of that renewable energy comes specifically from hydroelectric generation.
Regulation governing the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) states that electricity generation must be based on renewable resources.
Presently, the second most utilized renewable energy is that of geothermal energy, extracted from the slopes of the country’s volcanoes.
ICE now wants to diversify its renewable energy sources.
Its plans include expanding the use of geothermal energy, increasing wind generation, as well as incursions into solar energy production.
ICE faces some hurdles in expanding the use of geothermal, however, as most of the locations for geothermal extraction are inside national parks, biological reserves, or other conservation areas, where such activity is prohibited.
However, there are currently several bills in the Legislative Assembly, which aim to permit the exploitation of geothermal energy from within conservation areas, while taking into account environmental protection, operational standards, and compensation for the resource, should the measures be approved.
Though there are many sectors that are opposed to the possibility of geothermal extraction in protected areas, it should also be taken into account that geothermal energy does not depend on the weather, is clean, does not produce contamination, energy production remains constant throughout the year, and Costa Rica has 5 active volcanoes: Arenal, Turrialba, Rincon de la Vieja, Irazu and Poas.
In regards to wind energy, Costa Rica is one of the countries in Latin America with the most wind turbine installations. As well, there are two more projects planned, which would produce about 350 megawatts by 2016.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica is leading a charge to encourage further energy production from renewables.
Among the country’s programs are systems designed to create distributed energy, which encourages private property owners to produce their own clean energy from biomass, wind, solar, or hydro sources, reducing or eliminating their consumption from the grid; use of solar energy in remote areas without electricity, in which solar panels have already been installed at rural schools, health clinics, and some homes; as well as the purchase of biomass energy from agribusinesses.