Costa Rica Taking Steps Towards Its First Offshore Wind Project

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) is set to launch studies to identify the potential of offshore wind energy in the country as well as the challenges, risks and opportunities in the development, installation, and operation of offshore wind farms in the near future.

The studies, which are expected to start during the second quarter of 2022 and to be completed within 18 months, are being supported by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and the Republic of Korea through a USD 600,000 non-reimbursable technical cooperation grant from the Korea-CABEI Single Donor Trust Fund (KTF) granted to ICE and the Government of Costa Rica.

According to a statement from CABEI Executive President, Dr. Dante Mossi, in a press release from 31 January, this Technical Cooperation will provide the necessary inputs for the development of an offshore wind farm.

An offshore wind farm would revitalise the national economy by increasing the diversification of the electrical grid, improving local and regional markets, and preparing the country for the increase in demand for the service, as foreseen by the authorities, Dr. Dante Mossi said.

In the press release, CABEI states that the development of the studies is expected “to provide inputs for structuring the project’s financing, whose funds will come from the first issue of a CABEI Blue Bond”.

When it comes to the areas ICE’s studies will cover along with the research of opportunities and challenges in offshore wind development, the work will also include the design of a buoy monitoring system for data collection and the evaluation of the marine-coastal infrastructure for the development of offshore wind energy projects, including market analysis, technical engineering and design recommendations, and their respective financial analysis, according to CABEI.

As part of this cooperation, support will be provided for the development of a preliminary environmental and social impact assessment (EIAS) that will contribute to the establishment of a comprehensive social awareness strategy, and for capacity building and transfer of technical knowledge to ICE personnel.

The cooperation will also see the sharing of the best practices, knowledge, and lessons learned by experts from the Republic of Korea in relation to offshore wind development.

“With these resources, for 18 months, two teams of national and international experts will undertake the task of building the social, legal, environmental and infrastructure conditions required by the supply chain and governance of the future development of offshore wind energy in the country”, said ICE’s Director of Planning and Sustainability, Kenneth Lobo.

“In the same way that we were pioneers in the consolidation of a renewable electricity matrix, low in greenhouse gas emissions and resilient to climate change, with this initiative we will lay the foundations for the measurement of the resource and we will begin the joint construction of the new blue energy map, of marine ecosystem services and of the new coastal development poles of Costa Rica”, Kenneth Lobo said.

Costa Rica started taking its first steps in offshore wind last year, when the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the Vice-Ministry of Energy and Environmental Quality (MINAE) of Ministry of Environment and Energy, and Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) launched a joint initiative to build knowledge about the local benefits of offshore wind and explore pathways for its future development and growth in in the country.

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They organised a closed-door workshop on 1 and 2 September that brought together representatives from across the public and private sector and key stakeholders in Costa Rica to enhance understanding of the scope of benefits, costs, and other challenges and opportunities for offshore wind development.

Costa Rica is estimated to have a total offshore wind technical potential of 14 GW, of which around 1 GW is bottom-fixed offshore wind and 13 GW is floating offshore wind, according to GWEC, which said last year that the country had the potential to become a first-mover in offshore wind in Central America.

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Photo: Illustration; Photo: Ørsted (archive)