In Costa Rica the ban on installing geothermal generation plants in protected areas has created the need to generate electricity using oil which pollutes the environment.
An article in Nacion.com reports on the practical difficulties preventing Costa Rica from achieving its proclaimed goal of carbon neutrality by 2021.
As an example, it cites the adoption of clean technologies in transport being hampered because of the power supply demanded by these technologies would offset their positive effect, given that electricity must be generated partly in thermal plants using fossil fuels which release polluting gases.
Meanwhile, much cleaner geothermal energy lies dormant, because tapping would required having plants in protected areas inside national parks, which Costa Rican legislators are opposed to.
“The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) has spent years trying to open geothermal sources (waste heat from underground) in the Central Volcanic Range and in Guanacaste.”
By opposing any activity on the national parks, whose geothermal wealth could be exploited with minimal damage and ample compensation of the affected land with others nearby, the Legislature prefers to allow hydrocarbon based generation.
The environmental damage as a result of such conduct is far superior. Oil power generation emits a thousand kilos of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour and geothermal just 59. Costa Rica produces 14 percent of its energy from steam, but wastes the opportunity to use the equivalent of 14 million barrels of oil per year in geothermal power, 80% of its annual consumption of fossil fuels.