Energy profile: Costa Rica

From Global Energy Monitor


This page is part of Global Energy Monitor's Latin America Energy Portal.
Related pages:

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.[1] In 2020, renewables accounted for more than 99% of the country's electrical generation, with hydro, wind, and geothermal being the three key sources.[1][2]

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.[3]

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.[4] As of 2019 more than half of greenhouse gas emissions came from the transportation sector.[5] Costa Rica is creating policy based on the National Decarbonization Plan 2018-2050.[6]

Government energy agencies & other key players

National energy ministry

MINAE (Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía) is the national body responsible for the conservation and sustainable development of energy and natural resources in Costa Rica.[7]

Permitting agencies

SETENA (Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental) handles permitting, including environmental impact evaluations.[8]

Regulatory agencies

Costa Rica's numerous laws regulating the environment are almost all enforced by MINAE.[9]

Electric utilities

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.[10]

National oil company

RECOPE (Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo) manages the importation, storage, and distribution of petroleum in Costa Rica.[11]

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.[12]

Electricity usage

Installed capacity

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.[2] ICE owned nearly 70% of the market installed capacity as of 2019.[6]


Electricity in Costa Rica is produced almost entirely from renewable sources.[2][13] 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.[2][13]


Costa Rican access to electricity is universal and the country is able to meet demand through renewable resources.[14]


During 2018, 10.16 TWh of electricity was consumed in Costa Rica.[15] Costa Rica produces enough electricity to cover 110% of its annual consumption needs.[16]

Coal in Costa Rica

Domestic Production

Costa Rica produces no coal.[17]


Costa Rica does not use coal for electricity production.[18] In 2016, Costa Rica consumed 110 short tons of coal- approximately 22 cubic feet of coal per capita - ranking 127th in the world.[17]

Imports & source countries

Costa Rica imports all of the coal it uses, much of it from the United States.[19]

Oil & Natural Gas in Costa Rica

Domestic Production

Oil and gas exploration policies have been under threat of ban since 2002, with activists pushing for the ban to continue until 2050.[20] In December 2020, Costa Rica joined Denmark in taking the first steps to establishing an official end date on fossil fuel production.[21] Groups such as ADELA (Acción de Lucha Anti-Petrola) actively oppose offshore oil exploration.

Costa Rica is the only Latin American member of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA).[22]


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.[23] Fuel theft from the Recope Pipeline has been a concern for Costa Rican officials, with 279 oil theft incidents in 2019.[24]

Imports & source countries

Costa Rica imported 20 million barrels of refined oil and gas products during 2018.[20]

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.[21]


The Recope pipeline moves oil throughout Costa Rica, from Moín on the Caribbean coast to Barranca on the Pacific coast.[25]

Renewable Energy in Costa Rica

© 2020 The World Bank, Source: Global Solar Atlas 2.0, Solar resource data: Solargis.

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.[1]

The 2018-2034 energy plan does not include additional hydropower projects although the existing hydropower will continue to be an important part of the country's energy matrix.[3][26]

Iron & Steel in Costa Rica

Costa Rican exports of iron and steel totaled $151.53 million during 2019,[27] while imports accounted for $489.33 million during the same time period.[28] Since 2008, ArcelorMittal of Luxembourg has controlled 50% of the top Costa Rican steelmakers: Laminadora Costarricense SA and Trefileria Colima SA.[29] ArcelorMittal is the only producer of iron rods in Costa Rica.[30]

Environmental & social impacts of energy in Costa Rica

Open pit mining is prohibited in Costa Rica due to the negative environmental, visual, human, and cultural impacts.[31] The Costa Rican Air Surveillance Service helps to monitor for illegal mining operations in the country.[32]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Costa Rica's electric grid powered by 98% renewable energy for 6th straight year -". Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Panorama Energético de América Latina y el Caribe 2021". OLADE. November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Plan de Expansión de la Generación 2018-2034" (PDF). Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. October 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "¿Pueden las renovables llevar a una recuperación verde de América Latina?". Dialogo Chino. October 2, 2020.
  5. Jocelyn Timperley. "The long road to a zero-carbon country". Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Costa Rica - Climate Action Tracker". Retrieved 2021-05-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. "Misión y Visión". (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  8. "Marco Jurídico | Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental". (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  9. "Costa Rica Environmental Laws -". 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  10. "¿Quiénes Somos?". Grupo ICE. March 31, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "Marco filosófico - RECOPE". RECOPE (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  12. "The Future of Employment and the "Green" Revolution". The Costa Rica News. 2020-11-17. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Costa Rica's renewables share hits 99.15% in 2019". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  14. "10 Facts about Renewable Energy in Costa Rica | The Borgen Project". The Borgen Project. 2020-01-25. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  15. "Costa Rica - Countries & Regions - IEA". IEA. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  16. "Costa Rica Electricity Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Costa Rica Coal Reserves and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  18. "Costa Rica's Green New Deal". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  19. "Costa Rica Trading Partner Portal - Advocacy - California Chamber of Commerce". Advocacy - California Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Alvaro Murillo. "Costa Ricans could get chance to vote on opening to oil exploration". U.S. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "We have set an end date for oil and gas production. The world should follow". Climate Home News. 2020-12-12. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  22. Arguedas Ortiz, Diego (November 10, 2021). "At COP26, 11 National and Subnational Governments Launch The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance" (PDF). Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. Retrieved May 2, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. "Costa Rica Has Run on 100% Renewable Electricity for 299 Days". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  24. "Costa Rica Oil Theft Reaches Record High in 2019". InSight Crime. 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  25. "Poliducto". RECOPE. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  26. Opperman, Jeff. "How The World Can Meet Climate And Energy Targets, While Keeping Its Remaining Free-Flowing Rivers". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-10-12.
  27. "Costa Rica exports of iron and steel - 1994-2019 Data | 2021 Forecast". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  28. "Costa Rica Imports of Iron and steel - 1994-2019 Data | 2021 Forecast". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  29. "ArcelorMittal Takes Control Of 2 Costa Rican Steelmakers". 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  30. "ArcelorMittal Centroamérica y Caribe". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  31. "Open-Pit Mining Prohibited in Costa Rica ⋆ The Costa Rica News". The Costa Rica News. 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  32. teleSUR/esf-MS. "Costa Rica: Police Unveils Gold Extraction Worth $60 Million". Retrieved 2021-05-14.