Blog

Beating the heat in Costa Rica
15 July 2013

By Matt Curry.

In May of this year I was given the amazing opportunity of installing a solar power system with our team in Costa Rica. The system was to be a good sized one, at over 7kW, on the “Centro Veterinario Costa Ballena” a three story veterinarian clinic in the town of Uvita in the south of Costa Rica. On paper, the logistics and practicalities of installing in a remote part of the country indicated that, it would be a challenging and interesting install.  I was excited for the chance to take on a complex system, visit a new country, catch up with my old friend Yohann (who is heading up our CR division) and, meet the rest of the team.


Looking towards the Osa Peninsula from PowerSmart Costa Rica headquarters.

I arrived in San Jose late on a Saturday night, checked into my hotel and caught up on a few badly needed hours of sleep.  The following day I was met by Yo and co-worker Marc Simard, who had been doing some business development and helping Yo get setup for our install. We sorted out some last minute tool and equipment details, had a memorable lunch at a restaurant in the hills overlooking the capital, dropped Marc at the airport and then headed south to the coast through torrential tropical rain storms, passing by crocodiles resting on the banks of rivers into the jungle of southern CR. 


The toucan tree, as seen from the corner office.


Caution: Sloth Crossing.


Capuchin monkeys.

The install itself proved to be as challenging in reality as it appeared to be on paper.  Luckily our resourceful and hardworking team of Yo, Carlos (our CR Engineer) and Marlon (sparky in training) were up for the job.  We rigged up a fall arrest system to keep us safe whilst working at well over 10m and proceeded to get the system installed over the course of the following week.  After long days of working in 30degree + heat, sun and 100% humidity we would treat ourselves to a dip in the warm ocean before heading back to PowerSmart CR headquarters to recharge.   By the end of the week we were all exhausted but very happy with the final product.  It was very satisfying to turn the system on for owner and operator of the veterinarian clinic, Dr. Fernando Riera Silesky, whose business will now provide for its own energy requirements. 


Carlos feeling good as the first array starts to come together. 


Carlos and Marlon putting down the first array.


I followed Marlon’s lead and went with a wet t-shirt under my hat.  The locals know how to keep cool!


Skip the Gatorade and head for pipa fria, which is full of electrolytes and packed with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The best way to stay hydrated in the tropics!

I found Costa Rica to be a country of exceptional natural beauty and variety. As part of an initiative to preserve this legacy, Costa Rica has set a goal of being carbon neutral by the year 2020. The country already relies on 95% renewable electricity and has set-up a pilot project to emphasize and support ecologically sustainable technologies, such as solar, to complement this renewable energy generation mix.  PowerSmart is excited to bring its solar PV experience to support Costa Rica in their efforts to become a carbon neutral nation!


Flying back to San Jose on a very small plane, looking out over Playa Espadilla.

I’d first met Yohann and his partner Tatiana through mutual friends about ten years prior, on an extended road trip from Canada to Mexico and back.  It was a real bonus to get the chance to spend some time with them, enjoy Tatiana’s amazing home cooked meals and to meet their new baby girl.  My only regret was that I couldn’t stay longer, as obligations back in NZ required me to head home after one short but productive week.  Many thanks to Yohann, Tatiana, Kassia and Chula for their hospitality and to Carlos and Marlon for their hard work on and off the roof!  Pura Tuanis! I’ll definitely be putting my hand up for the next project in Costa Rica. 


Not a bad view, the corner office at PowerSmart Costa Rica.


The Team! Yohann, Marlon, Matt and Carlos looking happy and tired on our last day of installing.

 

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