Costa Rica defines PV feed-in tariff

The Regulatory Authority for Public Services (Aresep) has defined photovoltaic feed-in tariffs that apply to facilities under the net metering scheme as well as to independent plants of up to 20 MW.

The rates, published by Aresep last week, will be the same that apply to hydropower. However, the final price will be negotiated with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) or the country’s electricity distributors.

The newly established tariffs provide clarity for the compensation of photovoltaic power generation for self-consumption installations of up to 1 MW capacity as well as PV plants operated by independent power producers of up to 20 MW, which can be legally operated by private businesses and rural electricity cooperatives.

Costa Rica approved self-consumption regulations last month that allow both the exchange and sale of surplus PV power. The law also allows the use of micro-generators with an output of up to 100 kW and mini-generators of up to 1 MW. Moreover, a pilot program coordinated by the ICE for the self-consumption of renewable energy has been in effect since 2010, under which about 750 kW of PV systems were installed late last year.

In May 2012 , the Costa Rican government established the band tariff for hydropower plants. The lower rate was set at $0.0798 per kilowatt hour, the average rate at $0.1080 per kilowatt hour and the top rate at $0.1363 per kilowatt hour. The rate structure also depends on the season, high or low, and the time of day. Thus, there are different rates during peak and valley periods as well as during the night.

Aresep indicates that solar power and other renewables may allow companies to reduce their electricity costs in the dry season, when electricity rates are higher. Costa Rica currently covers about 90% of its electricity mix from renewable energies, with hydroelectricity being the country’s main energy source.