New Wind Farms for Sustainable Energy
As the world's supply of fossil fuels dwindles, Costa Rica forges a path toward sustainable energy with several new wind farm projects. Combining the latest technology with progressive government policies, this Central American nation is on track to becoming entirely carbon-neutral by 2021.
Most of Costa Rica's electricity is already derived from renewable resources produced in country. In 2009, 78.22% of the nation's energy production resulted from hydroelectric resources, while geothermal (12.84%), thermoelectric (4.89%), wind power (3.53%) and bio digesters (0.52%) accounted for the rest. Together, renewable energy sources account for more than 92% of Costa Rica's total electricity needs.
The government has developed policies to increase renewable energy production and has made efforts to reduce wait times and restrictions for sustainable energy projects. In fact, ICE, the government-run electric company, has reported approvals 37.5% faster than in the past, facilitating the creation of new hydroelectric and other renewable energy plants – an important step to increasing the nation's sustainable energy usage from 92% to an eventual 100%.
Currently, the nation's power plants operate at 25% their total potential, and the Strategic Energy Plan from the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET) strives to boost that number. To this end, the Costa Rican government is in the process of approving several new wind energy projects.
The province of Guanacaste, protected between two volcanic ranges, is known for beautiful weather and strong winds, making it an ideal location to create new wind farms. Costa Rica already produces 116 megawatts (MW) of wind power at its existing farms, and these new projects will significantly increase that number. The latest initiative, dubbed the Montes de Oro Wind Project, sits on nearly 260 acres and will consist of eight turbines with a capacity of 2.5 MW each and a projected output of 20 MW.
Additionally, in Guayabo de Bagaces (Guanacaste), three more wind projects have requested the required permits to begin operations. The Guayabo Project encompasses more than 50 generators; the Los Leones Initiative plans to produce 27 MW of energy; and the El Quijote Project, the brainchild of Heredia's Public Works Company, will produce approximately 30 MW. Joining these new projects is the Arenal Volcano Wind Park, located in the hills of Tilaran.