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 2019 and 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]

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

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.[6]

Permitting agencies

SETENA (Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental) handles permitting, including environmental impact evaluations.[7]

Regulatory agencies

Costa Rica's numerous laws regulating the environment are almost all enforced by MINAE.[8]

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.[9]

National oil company

RECOPE (Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo) manages the importation, storage, and distribution of petroleum in Costa Rica.[10]

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.[11]

Electricity usage

Installed capacity

At the end of 2019 installed electrical capacity was 3,566.453 mw, 99.15% of which was from renewables. ICE owns nearly 70% of the market installed capacity as of 2019.[5][12]


Electricity is produced primarily by renewable sources. As of 2019, the leading sources of energy generation were hydro (69.18%), wind (15.88%), and geothermal (13.37%), with smaller contributions from non-renewable fossil sources (0.85%), bagasse biomass (0.64%) and solar (0.08%).[2][12]


Costa Rican access to electricity is universal and the country is able to meet demand through renewable resources.[13]


During 2018, 10.16 TWh of electricity was consumed in Costa Rica.[14] Costa Rica produces enough electricity to cover 110% of its annual consumption needs.[15]

Coal in Costa Rica

Domestic Production

Costa Rica produces no coal.[16]


Costa Rica does not use coal for electricity production.[17] In 2016, Costa Rica consumed 110 short tons of coal- approximately 22 cubic feet of coal per capita - ranking 127th in the world.[16]

Imports & source countries

Costa Rica imports all of the coal it uses, much of it from the United States.[18]

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.[19] In December 2020, Costa Rica joined Denmark in taking the first steps to establishing an official end date on fossil fuel production.[20] 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.[21] Fuel theft from the Recope Pipeline has been a concern for Costa Rican officials, with 279 oil theft incidents in 2019.[22]

Imports & source countries

Costa Rica imported 20 million barrels of refined oil and gas products during 2018.[19]

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.[20]


The Recope pipeline moves oil throughout Costa Rica, from Moín on the Caribbean coast to Barranca on the Pacific coast.[23]

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.[1]

Iron & Steel in Costa Rica

Costa Rican exports of iron and steel totaled $151.53 million during 2019,[24] while imports accounted for $489.33 million during the same time period.[25] Since 2008, ArcelorMittal of Luxembourg has controlled 50% of the top Costa Rican steelmakers: Laminadora Costarricense SA and Trefileria Colima SA.[26] ArcelorMittal is the only producer of iron rods in Costa Rica.[27]

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.[28] The Costa Rican Air Surveillance Service helps to monitor for illegal mining operations in the country.[29]


  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 "Panorama energético de América Latina y el Caribe 2020 (p 122)". OLADE. November 2020.
  3. "¿Pueden las renovables llevar a una recuperación verde de América Latina?". Dialogo Chino. October 2, 2020.
  4. Jocelyn Timperley. "The long road to a zero-carbon country". Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Costa Rica - Climate Action Tracker". Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  6. "Misión y Visión". (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  7. "Marco Jurídico | Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental". (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  8. "Costa Rica Environmental Laws -". 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  9. "¿Quiénes Somos?". Grupo ICE. March 31, 2021.
  10. "Marco filosófico - RECOPE". RECOPE (in español). Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  11. "The Future of Employment and the "Green" Revolution". The Costa Rica News. 2020-11-17. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Costa Rica's renewables share hits 99.15% in 2019". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  13. "10 Facts about Renewable Energy in Costa Rica | The Borgen Project". The Borgen Project. 2020-01-25. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  14. "Costa Rica - Countries & Regions - IEA". IEA. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  15. "Costa Rica Electricity Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Costa Rica Coal Reserves and Consumption Statistics - Worldometer". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  17. "Costa Rica's Green New Deal". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  18. "Costa Rica Trading Partner Portal - Advocacy - California Chamber of Commerce". Advocacy - California Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Alvaro Murillo. "Costa Ricans could get chance to vote on opening to oil exploration". U.S. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "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.
  21. "Costa Rica Has Run on 100% Renewable Electricity for 299 Days". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  22. "Costa Rica Oil Theft Reaches Record High in 2019". InSight Crime. 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  23. "Poliducto". RECOPE. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  24. "Costa Rica exports of iron and steel - 1994-2019 Data | 2021 Forecast". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  25. "Costa Rica Imports of Iron and steel - 1994-2019 Data | 2021 Forecast". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  26. "ArcelorMittal Takes Control Of 2 Costa Rican Steelmakers". 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  27. "ArcelorMittal Centroamérica y Caribe". Retrieved 2021-05-14.
  28. "Open-Pit Mining Prohibited in Costa Rica ⋆ The Costa Rica News". The Costa Rica News. 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  29. teleSUR/esf-MS. "Costa Rica: Police Unveils Gold Extraction Worth $60 Million". Retrieved 2021-05-14.