“Rutas Eléctricas Costa Rica”:A Community Commitment Towards Transition to Zero Emission Mobility

    Costa Rica as an “environment friendly” society

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    If humanity is to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we must cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in half before 2030, according to the latest report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    In Costa Rica, the biggest challenge is to reduce pollution from transportation, since this is responsible for 42% of total emissions. These polluting gases not only trap heat in the atmosphere, generating an increase in temperature, they also have a negative impact on people’s health.

    In turn, Costa Rica is proud to have one of the cleanest electricity matrixes in the world (more than 90% free of fossil fuels). For this reason, it makes sense that the National Decarbonization Plan establishes the “transformation of the fleet of light vehicles to zero emissions, fueled by renewable energy, not of fossil origin.” But, what are the main barriers to the transition to electric mobility? There are two: the cost of vehicles and range anxiety. People are afraid of being stranded, with nowhere to charge their vehicle.

    RutasEléctricas Costa Rica emerges as a solution to range anxiety, helping to establish support networks so that electric vehicle users can find different charging options in businesses and organizations within a community.

    Abolish oil in Costa Rica

    In 2017, the Commission for Resilience to Climate Change in Monteverde (CORCLIMA) invited Mónica Araya, a renowned expert in electric mobility, to give a talk in Monteverde, this after seeing her TED talk in which she proposes to abolish oil in Costa Rica, in the same way that we abolished the army. In her presentation, Araya proposed an idea: that companies offer charging points to their customers. This was the seed that sprouted the first electric route in the country.

    Under CORCLIMA, the Monteverde Electric Route was launched in August 2019, with 70 companies -in Monteverde or in its accesses- that installed an electrical outlet. This community was a pioneer in offering this service to users of electric vehicles. Initially, most offeredonly 120V outlets, but we soon realized that this was a charge that would work for smaller vehicles but not as functional for electric cars. This is why now -both in Monteverde and in the other communities that have an electric route- 240V outlets or semi-rapid stations are installed.

    One of those pioneering companies in this community is the Hotel Belmar, which has a 120V outlet for electric bikes and golf carts and a semi-fast charging station for vehicles. “We are very proud to be part of the RutaEléctrica, a pioneering project in promoting more sustainable mobility in the world,” Pedro Belmar, director and owner, told us. “It’s nice to see how much the people who visit us appreciate that we have facilities to charge their cars and for those who don’t have electric cars, it helps them to consider it more and more as a viable option.”

    In 2020, after the success of the Monteverde Electric Route, we began to replicate the model in other communities in the country, but now as a national organization called RutasEléctricas Costa Rica. Our mission is to accelerate the transition to electric mobility by eliminating range anxiety through electric mobility friendly communities. Our motto is charging with purpose, since we not only want to offer the user the possibility of charging their vehicle while doing some activity, but also to give a differentiating element to these communities.

    Charging with purpose

    Although electricity companies have installed fast charging stations in a large part of the national territory, at the rate that the electric fleet is growing, it will not be enough to supply the demand for vehicles in the coming years, since these are not only private vehicles but also commercial fleets and rental vehicles. Grupo Bimbo, only this year, acquired 54 100% electric light-duty trucks (17% of its fleet).

    There are more and more electric vehicles with green plates that we see on our streets. In the first five months of 2023, more electric cars were sold than in all of 2022.

    At the international level, Costa Rica is an example of sustainability and environmental conservation. For this reason, Rutas Eléctricas Costa Rica is an opportunity for businesses, communities and the country to differentiate themselves as a zero-emission destination, where tourists can rent an electric vehicle and move throughout the national territory with renewable electricity.

    On the other hand, the tourist will find communities that, beyond offering charging points, know about electric mobility because they have been part of the process from the beginning. Currently there are six communities: Monteverde, La Fortuna, Nosara, Miravalles, Bahía Ballena and Río Cuarto, and others are in process.

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    Although we are in a decade of great anxiety, in the process we have discovered two key antidotes to deal with it. The first is ACT. The second, to do it together with others, to create a community. A community that works together to have less noise and less smoke is a more resilient community and better prepared to address climate issues holistically. Contact us: if you are interested in making your community friendly with electric mobility.
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