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Costa Rica: an update on the status of geothermal energy development

Las Pailas plant, Costa Rica (source: Ormat)
Alexander Richter 17 Oct 2017

With this piece, we are providing an update on the status of geothermal power generation in Costa Rica, correcting data shared previously. With an installed capacity of 205 MW and 165 MW in development, the country is leading in Central America.

Working through numbers of global geothermal development, we realised a mistake in our numbers which we herewith correct.

In our newspaper published this October we have an overview on geothermal power generation capacity stating an installed capacity for Costa Rica of 305 MW, indeed that number is 205 MW.

It shows the difficulty of reporting on numbers for geothermal plants worldwide, as numbers from different sources vary greatly.

So here an overview on the current status of geothermal operations and development in Costa Rica.

The geothermal power plants of Costa Rica
  • Boca de Pozo – 5 MW
  • Miravalles I – 55 MW
  • Miravalles Wellhead Unit 1 – 5 MW (backpressure)
  • Miravalles Wellhead Unit 2 – 5 MW (shut down 1999)
  • Miravalles Wellhead Unit 3 – 5 MW (shut down 1998)
  • Miravalles II – 55 MW
  • Miravalles V – 19 MW
  • Miravalles III – 29.5 MW
  • Las Paillas I – 42.5 MW (providing around 36 MW net)

Ongoing geothermal development in Costa Rica

  • Las Paillas II – 20 MW (2019) – Construction status around 60% as of spring 2017
  • Las Paillas further development 35-55 MW (unclear if this includes the 20 MW for Las Paillas II plant under construction)
  • Borinquen I – 55 MW (2023)
  • Borinquen II – 55 MW (2024)
  • Estimated development total around 165 MW

CentralAmerica_countrychart_Oct2017

The country further has a great geothermal development potential, how much of that though is actually available for development due to its location in national parks continues to be part of ongoing debate.

But further geothermal development is possible in this areas Locations: Miravalles, Rincón de la Vieja, Iras Turrialba, Tenorio, Platanar, Pos, Barva, Fortuna, Orosí-Cacao with a development potential of  Single Flash Technology – 865 MW, and Double Flash – 1,108 MW.

Costa Rica is a role model for the utilisation of renewable energy sources for its electricity needs, deriving the vast majority and nearly to 100% by renewable energy. While hydropower is the predominant source of electricity, geothermal contributes around 15% of its electricityl

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