Costa Rica’s past administration showcased their ambitious Carbon Neutral plan for 2021 and the current administration of President Laura Chinchilla is talking the same talk. But how serious are they? This past weekend, the pride and joy of China’s donation, the New National Stadium, opened its doors with a smoke free environment while at the same time using a diesel generator to power the stadium.
This type of contradicting action by the Costa Rican government has environmental and renewable energy groups holding their hands on their heads, questioning Costa Rica’s intentions of being an eco- and environmental-friendly country. Currently, the country has a mandate to achieve 10% biofuel blends by next year. However, due to the lack of stimulus and incentives, this mandate seems highly unlikely to reach its goal.
The growing conditions for agro fuels is ideal in Costa Rica and with native plants like Jatropha Curcas, an oil bearing tree that does not compete with food crops, the setting is ripe to allow for a perfect combination to help Costa Rica reduce their carbon footprint and energy independence. Daniel Yepez, President of United Biofuels of America (UBA), a leading biofuel organization, says that “Jatropha Oil can and should be used as the fuel to power the stadium’s generators.”
UBA has been recognized by Shell Oil as a top 25 energy entrepreneur company in the world. Their initiatives cover the “Million Gallon Challenge,” which is to produce a million gallons of crude oil per day. With 80% of all hydrocarbons imported and consumed by the transportation industry, it is evident that renewable energy will not only significantly reduce Costa Rica’s energy dependence but also greenhouse gas emissions.
“If it’s good enough for the airlines, it’s good enough for Costa Rica” states Mr. Yepez as he discusses the benefits of Jatropha as a drop-in fuel replacement for the aviation industry. For the last couple of years, UBA has been working alongside Aviation Assurance with a R&D test plantation in Florida to gain plant knowledge and help bring the highest quality product to market.
With oil prices on the rise, climate change, and turmoil in the Middle East, one has to wonder how humanity left the Stone Age behind without having run out of stones. Can the same be done with crude oil (petroleum) or must we run out to make the change to renewable energy?