Geothermal power plants in Costa Rica generating electricity corresponds to 13% of total capacity production Electricity System (SEN), the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).
The five geothermal plants located in Miravalles, represents 8% of total installed capacity by the SEN (83.8%), third in terms of capacity. But, because they are fed with steam from the interior of the earth and not dependent on climatic factors or annual maintenance, they have energies-continuous production, reducing costs and increasing production.
“Geothermal energy is not affected by changes in the weather stations, as in the case of other-hydro, thermal, wind and biomass-produced in the country and depend on various factors such as the flow of rivers, the amount of wind and preventive maintenance of the plants out of service for 3-4 months per year, “said the director of the Center for Geothermal Resources Services, Alfredo Mainieri.
Geothermal also ranks as the second most expensive in terms of production costs per kilowatt; 1 kilowatt of geothermal costs 6.22 cents despite having only 8% of the installed capacity, producing 1 kilowatt hydropower costs 3.81 cents.
“The plants have an economic life of 25 years, which is equal to the period in which they must recover the cost of investment, and in the case of geothermal plants you can retrieve investment in that period. After 25 years the plants continue only with operations and maintenance costs, “said Mainieri.
Despite the benefits of geothermal energy exploitation in Costa Rica is limited, since many sources are in national parks or protected areas (25% of the area of the country), reducing the number of plants can be placed and therefore the amount of energy that can be extracted.
Mainieri said that geothermal energy is an indigenous, clean, low-pollution and, if properly handled, can be renewable.
“Generally geothermal fields last for decades and its duration is based on the way they operate. That is why operational years of a plant depends on the way in which it operates and the size of the resource” said Mainieri.
In addition, the Center for Geothermal Resources Service has a draft document, which look at the feasibility to establish a second plant in Pailas would produce 55 megawatts and is expected to become operational in about 4 or 5 years.
The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica