September 13, 2011 / 12:42 AM / 8 years ago

Costa Rica opens hydro plant with tallest dam

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Costa Rica opened a new hydroelectric power plant on Monday that will use the Central American nation’s tallest dam to supply clean electricity to around 12 percent of its population.

The 134-megawatt Pirris power plant in the southern part of San Jose province uses a dam with a capacity for 30 million cubic meters of water. Rising 371 feet [113 meters], the dam is nearly two thirds the height of China’s massive Three Gorges dam, though not nearly as wide.

The plant will generate enough energy to power the homes of about 560,000 inhabitants, according to state-run energy firm, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). Costa Rica has a population of around 4.6 million people.

Costing $627 million funded partly by Japan, the project is aimed at helping wean Costa Rica off costly oil imports as the country works toward eliminating its carbon footprint and switching to almost 100 percent renewable energy by 2021.

“This project is not just big in size, but also in its social impact and its stamp of commitment to clean energies,” President Laura Chinchilla said after cutting the ribbon.

Reporting by Alex Leff; editing by Philip Barbara

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