The 100% Renewable Energy Project is an initiative of the World Future Council and La Ruta del Clima to support Costa Rica in achieving its decarbonization objectives. The project developed a technical study led by the Institute for Sustainable Futures of the Technological University of Sydney, which looks to provide contributions to the efforts of Costa Rica to achieve 100% renewable energy and decarbonize its economy.
In Costa Rica, decarbonization is a common goal and the country has great achievements in electricity generation based on almost 100% renewable sources. Unfortunately, this is not the case for its energy matrix, which generates approximately 80% of the country’s total emission of greenhouse gases. This represents a challenge for the decarbonization process but an opportunity for the development of renewable energy. These documents present the research results of this initiative and a roadmap to achieve an economy based on 100% renewable energy.
This summary for policy-makers highlights the key findings of a technical study on how to achieve 100% renewable energy in Costa Rica. The study was carried out by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Sydney University of Technology, as part of a project led by the World Future Council and The Climate Route to support Costa Rica in achieving its decarbonization goals.
A decarbonization roadmap.
In February 2019, Costa Rica launched one of the world’s most ambitious decarbonization plans, with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by the middle of the century and 100% renewable electricity by 2030. The study and the roadmap identify the potential and the challenges of achieving full decarbonization.
Costa Rica is a world leader when it comes to ensuring that energy production comes from renewable energy sources. Between 2010 and 2017, the country attracted $ 1.9 billion USD in investments in newly built clean energy (Rapid Transition Alliance, 2020), and with a 98% share of renewable energy in its electricity matrix and solid achievements to avoid deforestation.
A first multi-stakeholder workshop took place on 23 July 2019 in San José, gathering government representatives, energy providers, businesses, NGOs, civil society and researchers. Participants agreed that Costa Rica will reach 100% renewable energy and acknowledged the constructive ambitions of the government towards this goal. However, they raised concerns about the technical and financial challenges to increase the electric capacity in order to decarbonize the entire economy, especially regarding the transport sector. They also pointed to the social inequalities that have risen in recent times in Costa Rica and agreed that the energy transition should serve to enhance social integration.
A second workshop took place on 3 – 4 of October 2019, to share preliminary results of the modeling exercise and discuss the modeled 100% RE scenarios in more detail. In addition, the second workshop identified political priority areas and policy solutions, in particular with a view to reduce inequalities, strengthen rural economic development and electrify transportation. The workshop was complemented by a capacity building training for Costa Rican civil society organizations to optimize advocacy for renewable energy nationally and internationally.
The validated 100% renewable energy scenario was published during COP 25 in Madrid, Spain (hosted by Chile) and saw a full room with people eager to learn about the benefits of 100% renewable energy in Costa Rica and Bangladesh and get insights into what a just transition means for the Latin American country. Further bilateral discussions with key stakeholders from parliament, government, and civil society informed the development process of the 100% RE roadmap which was launched in June 2020 and is available in English and Spanish. Lessons learned from this project, have been highlighted in the publication “Achieving 100% Renewable Energy for All – Lessons learned from the development of Renewable energy roadmaps in the Global South”.
In addition, a webinar on the role of renewable energy for a Costa Rican Green Agreement was organized. This is of utmost importance for the development of Costa Rica, in the face of the climatic challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic.