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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Costa Rica Looks Again at Ethanol Blending for Fuels

The Costa Rican Oil Refinery (Recope) held its first technical roundtable this week to advance ethanol blending with gasoline as part of decarbonization efforts.

Recope convened vehicle importers to review global success with biofuel mixes aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This renewed focus comes as Recope aims to demystify opposition to ethanol blending that thwarted past attempts.

“It’s time to demystify ethanol. This industry has evolved over 50 years globally, and Costa Rica can’t remain on the sidelines,” said Recope president Juan Manuel Quesada Espinoza.

Vice Minister of Energy Ronny Rodríguez Chaves highlighted decarbonization as the primary objective behind blending. “This approach offers the most direct way to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” he stated.

Importers visited Recope’s labs to understand how fuel quality is ensured during ethanol blending procedures. Quesada emphasized Recope’s leadership in advocating biofuels to decrease emissions in line with national decarbonization goals.

“Our objective for 2023 is to commence ethanol blending with gasoline,” Quesada explained. Recope is also developing policies to facilitate biodiesel blending.

A prior 2019 attempt to introduce ethanol mixes faced backlash over concerns about vehicle damage, environmental impact, and inadequate consultation. Critics included current Minister of the Presidency Natalia Díaz, who legally challenged the plan.

Proponents defend that 63 other nations have successfully adopted ethanol blending. The former environment minister called the proposal aligned with Costa Rica’s pledge to phase out fossil fuels by 2050.

With transportation creating over half of Costa Rica’s emissions, ethanol and biodiesel are seen as pathways to honor the carbon neutrality goal. Recope aims to neutralize opposition through education on biofuels.

“It’s time to have an informed discussion about the pros and cons of ethanol,” urged legislator Roberto Thompson. “We must be open-minded in evaluating tools to sustainably meet our energy needs.”

The roundtable signifies renewed efforts to integrate ethanol as one component of comprehensive decarbonization. With collaboration across sectors, Recope believes ethanol can displace fossil fuels and enable Costa Rica to uphold its green leadership.

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