According to the 2013 World Energy Performance Index, Costa Rica is among the top 10 countries in the world with the best energy performance; and without question the northwestern province of Guanacaste has become a focal point for alternative and renewable energy.
Currently, Costa Rica produces 73% of its electricity from hydroelectric power, 13% from geothermal sources, 4% from wind turbines, and 1% from biomass, for a total of 91% of its energy generated from renewable sources, according to the Costa Rica Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE). Hydroelectric power, however, is climate-dependent, and during the driest months of summer it is stretched to its limits when water reserves are low.
This is where Guanacaste’s vast plains, powerful volcanoes and dry, sunny climate come into play. The second largest province in the country is being tapped for the powerful resources of wind, solar and geothermal energy.
In Guanacaste Costa Rica – one of the windiest locations in the world – international and Costa Rican companies are harnessing the power of the wind with huge wind turbine farms. There are currently 11 wind energy projects in Costa Rica, most in Guanacaste, and also by Volcano and Lake Arenal and in the Central Valley. Spanish wind engineering firm Gamesa is building a new wind farm in Guanacaste, set to be generating electricity by 2015.
Solar energy companies are rapidly on the rise in Guanacaste. When the Miravalles Solar Plant opened on the slopes of the Miravalles Volcano in November 2012, thanks to a $10 million loan by the Japanese government, it was the first of its kind in Costa Rica and the largest solar project in Central America. Now there are several solar projects in the works for the region.
Guanacaste’s North Volcanic Mountain Ridge has been ideal for geothermal power generation, tapping the Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes. The Miravalles Geothermal Field opened in 1994 and produces nearly 14% of the National Electrical System’s (SEN) capacity. The Pailas Geothermal Power Plant opened in July 2011 just outside the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park and is also a key energy supplier. Last November, President Laura Chinchilla signed an agreement with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for a $560 million loan to build three more geothermal power plants near the famous Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste.
For things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, look no further than the Costa Rica adventure tours at Hacienda Guachipelin. Their adventure park offers you canopy zip lines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, river tubing, horseback riding, nature trails, natural thermal springs, and tours into the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park.
Article by Shannon Farley