Clean Power geothermal project

Published on July 11th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


$958 Million Geothermal Project Approved By Costa Rican Legislature

July 11th, 2014 by  

A geothermal project valued at $958 million US dollars was approved by members of the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly within the last week. Over $600 million of the total will potentially be funded by two sources: the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and European Investment Bank. The Japanese agency will provide $540-560 million, and the European bank $70 million. The remainder will come from the Costa Rican Electricity Institute. Only a 0.6 percent interest rate will be charged by Japan, and  Costa Rica will have forty years to pay back the loan.


There still needs to be another vote in the Constitutional Court, but this process is expected to be happening in the next several days.

The expected location is Guanacaste near Rincón de la Vieja. The first plants are expected to generate about 55 MW and cost approximately $333 million to build. Two other 50 MW plants will be built as well, about 40 kilometers from the Pailas II plants.

A Costa Rican official, Teofilo de la Torre, said that when operational, the new geothermal plants could generate electricity at about five cents per kilowatt-hour. It has been reported that Costa Rica wants to be carbon neutral by 2021, so developing geothermal would help them achieve that goal. In 2010, it was reported that about 13% of Costa Rica’s energy came from geothermal.

Geothermal Project Produces 100% Clean Energy

If the naturally abundant, forward-looking Central American nation is already at 80% of its electricity from hydro power, adding  a large geothermal capacity will only move it closer toward 100% clean energy.

Costa Rica has been a regional leader in providing electricity access and for keeping costs low:

In Costa Rica, 250 kWh would be enough satisfy the monthly needs of low- and middle-income households. The average domestic consumption in 2009 was slightly above 224 kWh, and 75% of ICE’s users consume that amount or less. On average, in other Latin American countries, users had to dedicate 14.6% of the minimum salary, while in Costa Rica only 7% was needed to pay for an equivalent amount of electricity.

The three proposed geothermal projects will likely create a number of jobs and therefore hold potential for stimulating the economy where they are located. Geothermal has an advantage over solar and wind power, because it is very steady, rather than intermittent.

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

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  • JamesWimberley

    The cost per watt (about $6) looks high by solar or wind standards, but geothermal has a fantastic availability – around 95%. Technically you can go higher (the steam is always there) but the extra costs of ultra-low-maintenance equipment are not usually thought worth it, especially if as here you are building several plants.

    Costa Rica is one of the very few hero countries on climate change (link). It is power supply is over 95% renewable already (from hydro), and it aims at carbon neutrality by 2021, when most other countries will still be getting started. They’ve got a very good deal from the Japanese; presumably because they see geothermal equipment as a strong growth market globally and specifically in volcanic Central America, and want to get established as leading suppliers.

    • Kyle Field

      Agree, they are kicking butt. I went down there in 2008 and was blown away by this volcano – Volcan Arenal. We were there around sun down and you could see it belching out lava…and hear it rumble. Eerie feeling but good to see that they are looking to put that thing to more use than just hot springs for tourists 🙂

  • Just FYI, the measure passed through the Constitutional Court and was ratified on second reading on July 4th in the Legislative Assembly, funding is in place, and the project now moves to tender.

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      Thank you for the confirmation that this project has been approved.
      It has long been a personal theory of mine that if our country (US) can get to where the majority or all of our electricity supply is provided by renewables it would mean that everyone is able to be supplied at a minimal cost.
      By the numbers quoted in this article it would seem to prove that theory as true.

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