Energy profile: Costa Rica
Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)
Since 2014, Costa Rica has been generating more than 98% of its electricity from renewable sources, but has yet to turn fully to renewables in other sectors such as transportation. In 2020, renewables accounted for more than 99% of the country's electrical generation, with hydro, wind, and geothermal being the three key sources.
The energy plan for 2018-2034 emphasizes favoring renewable sources, lowering dependence on fossil fuels, energy security, limiting imports, diversifying energy sources, environmental sustainability, and lowering energy costs for Costa Ricans.
Greenhouse gas emissions targets
Costa Rica was the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to adopt a coordinated plan to achieve a zero-emission economy by 2050. As of 2019 more than half of greenhouse gas emissions came from the transportation sector. Costa Rica is creating policy based on the National Decarbonization Plan 2018-2050.
Government energy agencies & other key players
National energy ministry
Costa Rica's numerous laws regulating the environment are almost all enforced by MINAE.
ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) is Costa Rica's state-run electricity and telecommunications provider. CNFL (Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz S.A.) is responsible for distribution and commercialization of electrical energy in the main metropolitan center of the country.
National oil company
Energy sector employment data
The green energy sector has created approximately 3,000 jobs in Costa Rica in areas such as biofuels, solar energy, and bus reconversion.
As of 2020 Costa Rica's installed electrical capacity was 3537 MW, with renewables accounting for nearly 87% and fossil fuels making up the remainder. ICE owned nearly 70% of the market installed capacity as of 2019.
Electricity in Costa Rica is produced almost entirely from renewable sources. As of 2020, the leading sources of energy generation were hydro (71.91%), geothermal (14.64%) and wind (12.65%), with solar, bagasse biomass and non-renewable fossil sources contributing less than 1% each.
Costa Rican access to electricity is universal and the country is able to meet demand through renewable resources.
Coal in Costa Rica
Costa Rica produces no coal.
Imports & source countries
Costa Rica imports all of the coal it uses, much of it from the United States.
Oil & Natural Gas in Costa Rica
Oil and gas exploration policies have been under threat of ban since 2002, with activists pushing for the ban to continue until 2050. In December 2020, Costa Rica joined Denmark in taking the first steps to establishing an official end date on fossil fuel production. Groups such as ADELA (Acción de Lucha Anti-Petrola) actively oppose offshore oil exploration.
Due to the small population and economy which is not focused on manufacturing, Costa Rica does not burn much oil or gas; the majority that is consumed is by the transportation sector. Fuel theft from the Recope Pipeline has been a concern for Costa Rican officials, with 279 oil theft incidents in 2019.
Imports & source countries
Costa Rica imported 20 million barrels of refined oil and gas products during 2018.
Proposed new sources & projects
As Costa Rica continues to diminish the use of oil and natural gas, there are no new projects in the foreseeable future.
Renewable Energy in Costa Rica
Costa Rica's electrical generation has been nearly 100% renewable since 2014; preliminary figures from 2020 showed hydropower (72%), geothermal (14.9%) and wind energy (12%) continuing to lead the way.
Iron & Steel in Costa Rica
Costa Rican exports of iron and steel totaled $151.53 million during 2019, while imports accounted for $489.33 million during the same time period. Since 2008, ArcelorMittal of Luxembourg has controlled 50% of the top Costa Rican steelmakers: Laminadora Costarricense SA and Trefileria Colima SA. ArcelorMittal is the only producer of iron rods in Costa Rica.
Open pit mining is prohibited in Costa Rica due to the negative environmental, visual, human, and cultural impacts. The Costa Rican Air Surveillance Service helps to monitor for illegal mining operations in the country.
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