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HomeTopicsEnvironment and WildlifeCosta Rica's Energy Crisis: A Wake-Up Call for Change

Costa Rica’s Energy Crisis: A Wake-Up Call for Change

Costa Rica is going through an energy crisis, and the entire country will suffer power outages of approximately three hours starting next week. Businessowners, experts in the area, and politicians agree on the need to take actions to avoid power rationing or blackouts in the future. Therefore, they consider that solar and wind energy production should increase its presence in the country.

“A single renewable source, by itself, cannot meet the electricity demand. We need a matrix made up of various resources, of different sizes and sources, that provide competitiveness and reliability to users,” said Mario Alvarado, executive director of the Costa Rican Association of Energy Producers.

Due to its geographical location, Costa Rica has the third-best solar electric energy potential per square meter in terms of the entire American continent. However, that wealth is wasted every day due to ICE’s reluctance to allow the development of solar energy, according to Jorge Esteban Padilla, a member of the board of directors of the Chamber of Distributed Generation.

ICE’s refusal is inexplicable, given that solar energy would help alleviate the country’s current crisis. However, since January, the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) has succumbed to pressure from ICE and other electricity distributors to establish a fee that discourages private solar panel generation.

“It’s like if AyA charged users for collecting rainwater with a bucket. It doesn’t make sense. If ICE were to promote private generation with solar panels, at this time, there would be less pressure on electricity demand,” Padilla stated. Since January, the cost of electricity for solar panel users has increased by up to 400% compared to previous rates due to this fee.

Distributed generation with solar panels cannot be seen as an enemy of ICE, but rather as an ally, a complement that could help the country cope with the growing demand for electricity. The possible rationing is taking place in a context in which the government of Rodrigo Chaves is promoting the law of harmonization of the electricity market. This is a long-standing demand of the productive sector.

“The situation we are experiencing today is a wake-up call for actions to be taken to avoid, reduce, and eliminate the vulnerability shown by the electricity system. To this end, we must allow as much renewable generation as possible, promote distributed generation, and strengthen the legal framework to encourage new investments,” he added.

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