Costa Rica & Renewable Energy
By Paul Homewood
Costa Rica is often held up as the shining paragon for renewable energy, showing the rest of us how we would run our economies on little more than wind, sun and fairy farts.
The truth, you will not be surprised to learn, is rather different.
It is certainly true that Costa Rica gets most of its electricity from renewable sources, but the vast majority of this comes from hydropower.
There is nothing new about hydropower in Costa Rica. In fact, according to the US EIA, the country sourced all its electricity from hydro as long ago as 1980.
The other major renewable source is geothermal, which sensibly makes good use of all the volcanoes there. Again , there is nothing new with this. Costa Rica has been generating electricity this way since 1992, and the Miravalles Geothermal Field, which accounts for 14% of total grid capacity, has been operational since 1994.
In contrast, wind and solar produce a measly 5% of the country’s generation.
There is ample hydropower during the wet season during the winter, but it becomes problematic during the summer, hence the need for fossil fuel backup.
For the Costa Ricans, all of this is eminently sensible, taking advantage of abundant natural resources.
If we could grow a few mountain ranges here, along with a smattering of volcanoes. maybe we could follow suit. Until then, however, it looks like we’ll have to rely on those fairy farts!