Improving conditions for distributed energy in Costa Rica: a case study for community energy




Topics: Resource efficiency policies for sustainable cities and lifestyles
Keywords: Distributed Energy Resources, Community Energy.

Esteban Bermúdez1, Andrea San Gil2, Raquel Salazar3, Bjørn Utgård1

1ESCOIA, S.A; 2Centro Para la Sostenibilidad Urbana, Costa Rica; 3Batalla Salto Luna Abogados;


Distributed energy technologies and business models are increasingly recognized as key to developing efficient and affordable energy systems in a carbon-constrained world. The centralised and large-scale energy infrastructure approach is often challenged by public opposition due to social and environmental costs and top-down, imposing model of delivery. Distributed energy supplements this model and enables a more inclusive approach to energy system decision-making. Costa Rica aims to derive 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and has set one of the world’s most ambitious national climate plans. Whereas national energy and climate plans rely mostly on large-scale hydropower projects within the centralised system, current regulatory and cultural conditions inhibit distributed energy innovation.

Other countries have developed innovative models that are thriving and pushing an energy transition towards a more de-centralised model where energy resources are more efficiently used, a more inclusive electric system where citizens participate directly by generating, storing and using energy more intelligently. This also increases citizen’s awareness regarding renewable energy sources. How have these innovative models been developed and implemented? Could these models work in Costa Rica? Which models could create the most benefits for the country? This paper derives from the collaborative work between ESCOIA SA, Centro Para la Sostenibilidad Urbana and Costa Rica Limpia, in alliance with E3G Third Generation Environmentalism (UK). This consortium has explored the current electricity system in Costa Rica, studied 11 innovative business and cooperation models for distributed energy internationally. The purpose of this research was to help Costa Rican energy system players capture the opportunities offered by distributed energy innovation. By surveying the local energy context and international best practices, the goal is to develop concrete proposals for distributed energy innovation in Costa Rica. This paper explains the model of Community Energy applied to the Costa Rican electricity context.


Environmental Engineer, MSc in Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy. Founder and Director of the Center for Urban Sustainability in Costa Rica. Consultant and trainer on sustainability, climate change and quality infrastructure.