Renewable energy has generated enough electricity to power Costa Rica for 300 days in 2017 alone. We’re not even at the end of the year yet.
By the end of November, Costa Rica announced that renewable energy had powered the country for 300 days of the year with December still to come. It passed the previous record set in 2015 which was at 299, and each day that all electricity is generated using renewable sources is a new record.
Costa Rica is a small country in Central America with a population of just under 5 million and a size of 51,000 square kilometres. Due to it’s high rainfall, almost 80% of the country’s electricity is generated by hydropower with geothermal, wind and solar completing the total supply. No matter the size of the country, this is an impressive feat in itself.
The decision itself to focus almost completely on renewables and hydroelectricity more specifically dates back to 1948. At the end of a civil war, the country decided to abolish its army, instead, it chose to spend that money on the environment and renewable energy, paving the way to the breaking the records they have this year.
Costa Rica has a target to become carbon neutral by 2021 set out in their 2008 National Climate Change Strategy, meaning that the country will no longer emit more greenhouse gases than can be stored. It’s a very radical idea, but given the importance of needing to reduce global emissions it could be a very important one!
Whilst running almost entirely on renewable energy is an incredibly impressive feat, there are still large amounts of fossil fuels used in public and private transport and as the country develops, so does the reliance on transport to move around growing cities. However, they are aiming to transition from petrol and diesel powered vehicles to electric vehicles within the next decade.
Below is a TED talk by Costa Rican, Monica Araya, discussing how Costa Rica has become a leader in using renewable energy and the sustainability benefits that have developed because of that. It raises a very important decision that Costa Rica made back in the 1940s that paved the way to get to the point that they’re at right now!