500 houses to get solar panels as part of clean energy project

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    As part of a pilot program to promote clean energy, the roofs of 500 homes in Costa Rica will receive solar panels that can produce electricity for the company Nacional de Fuerza y Luz (CNFL).

    The project will cost $1 million and be financed by CNFL, according to the Costa Rican daily, La Nacion. For the participants there aren’t any bills, but they will receive a monthly fee for renting their roof and allowing the installation of CNFL’s technical equipment. On each home, CNFL will place two 200 watt panels. The company will also install an “inverter” that can pass direct current to alternating current. In total, the equipment to be installed in each home will cost $2,000 and remain as assets of CNFL.

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    If a house uses more than 400 watts, the extra watts required will come from conventional electricity sources. If the demand is lower than 400 watts, the excess will go to the national electricity distribution system.

    The first 300 panels will be set up between November and December this year and the last 200 in January 2012. The CNFL will soon publish a report on the process for selecting suitable houses. According to Henry Solis, the Director of CNFL’s Innovation and Energy Sufficiency Department, the main aim of the project is to show people how they can contribute to prevent climate changes. He also hopes that the project will lead to a greater demand for electric cars.

    “The cost of this equipment is still very expensive and hard to finance, but it is expected that in 3 years a new generation of affordable panels will be available,” Solis said.

    CNFL is the second distributor within recent years to launch a pilot scheme on distributed generation. Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) also started off its program in late 2010. ICE’s goal is to install 5 megawatt capacity wind-based generators, water, sunlight and biomass (waste). The plan includes many Costa Rican businesses and industries though the subscribers will pay for the cost of the equipment.

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