2015 began with a record for Costa Rica, which generated 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources for as many as 75 days in a row. The country's thermal power plants (which account for only 10 percent of the total installed capacity) have remained inactive also thanks to the increased rainfall, which has boosted the nation's various hydroelectric reservoirs.
A small country with 5 million inhabitants and a limited energy market, such as those of the other Central American countries, Costa Rica has a power consumption of about 10 TWh, very low if compared, for instance, to that of Italy, which amounts to approximately 320 TWh. Nevertheless, Central America is a very promising area for the development of the energy market, both in terms of the wide availability of renewable resources and the recent completion of a project for the electricity grid interconnection of all the countries in this area.
In Costa Rica, private individuals can contribute to only 30 percent of power generation. The remaining 70 percent is managed by a national power authority, like in Guatemala, where Enel is among the major private producers anyhow. ”The Group has been present in Costa Rica since 2001, when we acquired the assets of a company that also operated in Guatemala and Chile”, said Maurizio Bezzeccheri, Enel Green Power's Head of Latin America. 'At the time, we had two hydropower plants and a wind farm: we are currently building another 50 MW hydropower plant, thus contributing to the development of the country's energy matrix.'
In Central America, Enel is also active in Guatemala and Panama. 'We operate in Guatemala with five hydropower plants including that of Palo Viejo, for the construction of which we have applied new ways to create shared value with the local communities.'
In Panama, the 300 MW Fortuna plant, which consists of a large basin, contributes to the preservation of the country's energy system in case of emergencies. In a few months, EGP's first 10 MW solar PV facility will be operational, followed by other solar PV plants that are currently under development, for an additional 60 MW.
According to Bezzeccheri, ”we are still in the early stages of the creation of a true Central American market, but our ongoing presence in the area – which started over ten years ago and which features important assets – allows us to make a comparative assessment among different solutions and therefore to diversify our activities within the entire renewable energy sector”.