Solar panels at foreign ministry predicted to save 10% on electricity

Iconic Casa Amarilla in Barrio Otoya already gets attention as one of the most distinctive buildings in downtown San José for its yellow-coated walls. Now government leaders want the country to notice it for what’s on the roofs.

After installing 130 solar panels donated by the German-affiliate company Programa 4E, the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto is expected to reduce its electric bill by 15 percent.

Germany’s ambassador to Costa Rica, Ernst Martens, said the yellow building provides a beacon to follow for those worried about the country’s exorbitant prices of electricity. “Casa Amarilla now serves as an example that private businesses and Costa Rican residents can follow,” he said.

Manuel González Sanz, the minister of foreign relations, said the new installations atop his building show the country’s dedication to sustainable development. He then called on local companies to sacrifice the initial costs of placing solar energy panels on their properties because in the long run they can save on soaring electric costs that have crippled some businesses here.

“It could give business better competitivity in their markets while also serving to protect the environment,” González said.

During a presentation at Casa Amarilla Wednesday, Programa 4E’s regional director, Manfred Haebig, estimated that the clean energy system could save the government nearly $10,000 annually in electricity costs. This would allow for a quick return of investment on the $64,000 the agency put down to install the panels. “By year

These solar panels are new atop the foreign ministry's administrative building.

These solar panels are new atop the foreign ministry’s administrative building.

seven or eight, it’s basically free,” Haebig said.

Besides cutting expenses, the solar panels should also reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which goes hand-in-hand with the state’s proposal to be carbon neutral by 2021.

Both Haebig and Martens said Germany wants to keep supporting sustainable development practices all over Central America but that for now Costa Rica is the location with the best infrastructure to handle renewable energy projects. Programa 4E is owned by the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation, or GIZ, which is a state-run agency that also works with the European Union and the United Nations, among other significant international clients.

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