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Costa Rica to focus on geothermal when electricity demand increases

Las Pailas II geothermal power plant, Costa Rica (source: Grupo ICE)
Alexander Richter 2 Feb 2020

With stagnated electricity demand, Costa Rica's power utility Grupo ICE has announced it will not pursue new projects and when revisiting the situation in 2027 likely to focus on geothermal power projects.

With stagnating electricity demand, the Costa Rica electricity utility Grupo ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) has announced it will not pursue new power generation project development at least until 2027.

It will then re-evaluate the market conditions, but has also indicated that it will likely not pursue additional hydropower projects with a preference to then look at geothermal.

The decision is seen as positive as it would ease the pressure on electricity rates in the country.

“While ICE will not enter into the construction of new projects in the coming years, the analysis and planning of the energy matrix dictates that by 2027 let’s review if we must undertake a new project at the end of the useful life of some of our plants If so, it would be in geothermal energy where there is great potential, ” so Hazel Cepeda Hodgson, General Manager of ICE in the interview with La Nación.

He said that ICE would then not look into new hydropower development, but very cautious development in geothermal. In its current expansion plan for 2018 to 2034, ICE sees limits to hydropower development due to location, but sees the possible expansion of six of its own geothermal sites already in operation, a wind farm (besides planned private projects) and two private-sector driven solar projects.

Following initial reports, Grupo ICE has clarified that it already announced in 2018 that it has covered its needs in terms of installed electrical capacity, so in the short and medium term it is not necessary to integrate new plants, regardless of the source used to produce the energy

The Institute makes periodic updates on the behavior of Costa Rica’s electricity demand and presents them in its Generation Expansion Plan (PEG), which is published biannually. This document is a dynamic tool, which in its most recent version displaced in time projects contemplated in previous years, such as the geothermal projects Borinquen I and Borinquen II (that were put on hold).

Hydropower will though continue to play a crucial part in the electricity matrix of Costa Rica.

Source: La Nacion, Grupo ICE (note)