The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) reports 1,400 clients who produce their own electricity, mostly from solar panels. This group, made up mainly of industry, increases the country’s electricity generation capacity by 43.54 megawatts.
Starting October 1, these customers could sell their surplus electricity to other distributors.However, the ICE Electricity Manager, Roberto Quirós, recognizes that there is currently an obstacle: the lack of infrastructure to transport (or transmit) that electricity to the plants from which it would be distributed to homes and companies in the country. The ICE report indicates that of these electricity generation projects, 97% are located in the Chorotega Region.
“How are we going to bring it from the north of Guanacaste to the center of the country, which is where it is consumed, if for years we delay the decisions to build substations, to build lines, to do connection works that allow us to attract all that energy to the centers?” of consumption?” Quirós said in an interview with El Observador.
The electricity manager says that the current vision of the institution is to form an alliance with the cooperative and distribution sector in such a way that the plants can be built, while the institution will have to develop transmission works.
“For this reason, the financial situation of the institution is very, very solid (…) But the level of investment that the country needs due to the delay of the last four years is very high,” he added.
More clean energy for Costa Rica
Quirós explained that the plan remains in place to take a percentage of the thermal plants out of operation, that is, those in which bunker and diesel burning is used to generate electricity, in such a way that it is not considered renewable energy or “clean”. For example, Moín in Limón.
But the institution cannot lose sight of the fact that during the last year the demand for electricity grew by 3%. Therefore, the task would not only be to recover the production of thermal plants (which is a very low percentage), but also the growing demand in the country.
Given the reduction in rainfall and production in hydroelectric plants during 2023, 2024 and 2025, these megawatts would be key. If they were available, the country would depend less on the ignition of thermal plants.
“It is very important that instead of waiting for the economy to grow and being left behind, the electricity sector moves forward so that the country can begin to grow, that was what was not done for four years,” commented Quirós.
As of October 1st
The Public Services Regulatory Authority (Aresep) reported that as of October 1, those who produce electricity for self-consumption will also be able to sell it to distribution companies.This is because the authority approved the required rates, after the law was approved at the end of 2021.
This includes houses, hotels, condominiums, free zones, industries or shopping centers, among others, which are considered “prosumers”, that is, they consume the energy they produce through different sources.
Through distributed generation, people can take advantage of technological changes to generate their own electricity and supply themselves partially or totally, in such a way that they can operate under some of the following modalities:
- Self-consumption, without delivery of surpluses
- Self-consumption, with delivery of surpluses
- Island operation
- Energy storage
In the opinion of Aresep “with this model the national electrical model of having a company that generates in an energy plant and at the other end the users who receive and pay for that energy is decentralized.” However, in the opinion of the ICE Electricity Manager, the law and current rates will not be sufficient. Infrastructure deployment will be necessary.