Sustainable development is increasingly necessary for businesses and institutions across the globe. University of Michigan Sustainability Without Borders students and Capuchins de Taboga researchers are laying the foundation for a biological research station and field school with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in Costa Rica, a leading nation in sustainability. This study focuses on supplying the site and its expected operations with a sustainable energy supply. A bottom-up energy analysis was performed to determine and project electricity consumption by students and researchers as the field school further develops. HOMER, a microgrid optimization software, was used to determine the microgrid architectures projected to have the lowest levelized cost of electricity. Models for both grid-connected and grid-isolated microgrids were developed to serve as a strategic energy plan and inform the site’s continual development. In addition to installing a pilot solar + storage project to address researchers’ energy security concerns, initial results provide evidence that the site’s energy demand could be supplied economically with a combination of solar, battery storage, and rice and sugarcane biomass resources from surrounding agriculture operations. Upon completion, the net-zero Taboga Research and Education Exchange (T-Rex) will serve as a model for international sustainable research and schooling.
CSS Publication Number:
Andrew Harrison, Jacob Picardat, Tom Hayek. (2020) “Strategic Plan for a Net-Zero Field School in the Taboga Forest Reserve, Costa Rica.” Master’s Project, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-25.