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Is Geothermal Power the Newest Clean Energy Solution for Costa Rica?


As the world look for newer, cleaner and more efficient forms of energy generation, Costa Rica has stood out from the pack as a leader when it comes to finding renewable energy sources. Currently Costa Rica generates 90% of its electricity from renewable sources, primarily from hydroelectric dams and wind powered turbines located throughout the country. The one problem with this system is that countries power is highly dependent on the weather which in many area of Costa Rica can be very inconsistent.  In the dry months which also tend to have less wind both water and wind power sources become very ineffective and as a result power rates go up and/or there is not enough power generated for the country.

In an attempt to stay green and find a more consistent power source, Costa Rica has decided to harness the power of the countries many active volcano’s in the form of geothermal power.

The Process                                                             

The process of extracting  geothermal energy from the volcanos is actually fairly straight forward. You start by drawing hot water and steam from within the earth’s crust through naturally occurring tunnels located in and near Costa Rica’s many volcanos. From here the hot water and steam is cooled and used to power the turbines that generate power. This release of water and steam happens naturally and when used to create power is very eco-friendly.

Located in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica’s northern pacific province of Guanacaste, the Pailas Geothermal Power Plant first started producing power in 2011. While being considered a success the issue facing expansion and implementation in other areas of Costa Rica is the fact that almost every Volcano in Costa Rica is located within one of the countries many national parks.  As you can imagine, the idea of building large power plants in the counties many national parks has not gone over well with everybody.

What’s Next?

Right now the Costa Rican government is the middle of a very delicate balancing act. In a county known for its stunning national parks the idea of providing efficient and consistent energy to its people cannot go unexplored. So while it may take a good amount of time and several dozen environmental reports we are going to have to wait and see if a balance can be struck.

Let me know your thoughts on the topic, both for or against below.


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