Originally published on RenewEconomy.
By Sophie Vorrath
The Latin American country of Costa Rica has achieved the milestone of generating 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources, with a combination of hydropower and geothermal for 75 days in a row, the the state-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said.
Boosted by good rains at four of he country’s main hydroelectric plants, ICE said that, according to National Electric System figures, it had not been necessary to use hydrocarbons to supply the country’s grid at all in 2015, for the months of January, February and so far in March.
“With these (rain) conditions and the reserves accumulated to date, the ICE estimates that the downward trend in rates for all consumers will continue in the second quarter,” the power agency was quoted as saying in the Latin American Herald Tribune.
Of course, Costa Rica already has an outstanding record on efficient, clean and cheap electricity generation, ranking No. 2 in Latin America for providing a household coverage rate of 99.4 per cent at some of the region’s lowest prices.
According to the transnational institute, 250kWh would be enough satisfy the monthly needs of low- and middle-income Costa Rican households, at a cost of around 7 per cent of the minimum salary.
And their record on renewables is very good too. The country generated as much as 80 per cent of its electricity from hydro power as recently as last year – although recent droughts had led to the back-up use of diesel fuel.
And in 2010 it was reported that about 13 per cent of the Latin American nation’s energy came from geothermal.
Now, Costa Rica is in the process of adding several big new geothermal plants, after a $US958 million proposal was approved by the government in mid-2014.
The project, which is being co-funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the European Investment Bank, is expected to be located in Guanacaste near Rincón de la Vieja.
The first plants are expected to generate about 55MW and cost around $333 million to build. Two other 50MW plants will be built as well, about 40km from the Pailas II plants.
Once operational, it is expected the plants could generate electricity at about five cents per kilowatt-hour.
Reprinted with permission.