News

Costa Rica plans 155 MW development with Japanese funding

Rincon de la Vieja volcano, Costa Rica (source: flickr/ Jelle H., creative commons)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 20 Nov 2013

Costa Rica plans the development of three projects with a combined power generation capacity of 155 MW, near the existing Pailas I plant at the Rincón de la Vijeja Volcaono, Guanacaste. The development is funded through a $560 million loan by Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

According to an announcement by the office of the President in Costa Rica, the country is planning to develop three geothermal power plants utilizing resources at the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano.

In the signing ceremony yesterday morning, President Laura Chinchilla announced that the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) would extend Costa Rica a $560 million loan to build three plants in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.

Having reported about the ambitious goals of generating 95 percent of its electricity with renewable energy resources by 2014, geothermal energy plays a crucial part.

The first planned plant, Pailas II, is expected to have a power generation capacity of 55 MW with an estimated investment cost of about $333 million.

State utility Costa Rican Electricity Institute, or ICE, is planning to build  two other 50-MW power plants, Borinquen I and II, 40 kilometers away from the Pailas geothermal plants.

“This is 155 MW of reliable [electricity generation]; that is to say, they will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is clean, renewable and reliable energy, as reliable as any conventional thermal electrical power plant,” said ICE Executive President Teofilo de la Torre. He added that the plants would generate power at the lowest cost in the country, at around $0.05 per kWh.

ICE inaugurated the first such power plant, Pailas I, outside the Rincón de la Vieja National Park two years ago. None of the additional three proposed plants will be inside the park, said de la Torre. 

The Central American country will have 40 years to pay back the $560 million loan at a 0.6 percent interest rate. JICA offered a grace period on the loan where Costa Rica will pay only interest for the first 10 years.

There continues to be environmental concerns regarding development of geothermal projects in national parks, due to the protected nature of the land now earmarked for development. The parliament will though review the project in upcoming sessions.

Source: TicoTimes