Update 3/17/2021: Our original article stated “Costa Rica Has Run on 100% Renewable Energy for 299 Days.” It was pointed out to us that while Costa Rica’s electric grid does run primarily on renewable energy, a better title would have been “Costa Rica Has Run on 100% Renewable Electricity”. Below the article says that the government had not burned any oil to power the country, but this would technically imply that the government does not own gasoline powered vehicles, which couldn’t be true.
Costa Rica is pioneering the future of running on renewable energy and may be the model for future countries to follow suit.
In the last four years, Costa Rica has generated 98.53% of its electricity from renewable sources.
How? With its unique geography, forward thinking solutions, and commitment to sustainability, Costa Rica has used its rivers, volcanoes, wind, and solar power to generate its country’s power.
By the year 2021, Costa Rica plans to be completely carbon-neutral.
Since they’ve already operated on only renewable energy (much more difficult than simply being ‘carbon-neutral) for the majority of the last few years, it is definitely feasible.
Carbon Neutral vs 100% Renewable Energy
Before we get too deep in this, let’s have a firm understanding of the difference between what is considered ‘carbon-neutral’ and ‘100% renewable.’
Here is the definition of carbon neutrality:
Having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference.
In other words, a country can be considered carbon neutral while still using fossil fuels by planting trees that offset the carbon, or funding conservation programs which aim to reduce the amount of carbon in the air.
A country using 100% renewable energy, however, is the process using sources of energy that will never run out. In other words, no fossil fuels.
In addition, any carbon the country does use, it intends to offset through different initiatives.
Costa Rica: Leading the world in carbon neutrality
For several years now, Costa Rica has run on entirely renewable energy for an average of about 300 days per year.
That means the government did not burn any oil, coal, or natural gas to power the country.
No other country this size has done this.
For example, Portugal was recently praised in the news for running on 100% renewables for 4 days. Which is amazing, but also a testament to Costa Rica’s amazing progress.
Here’s how Costa Rica powers their country with renewable electricity
Costa Rica early in the power of renewable energy resources and made it a priority to become environmentally sustainable.
Because of that, the country has an abundance of geothermal renewable sources that account for much of the necessary energy to make the country successfully function.
Also, Costa Rica can get a lot of rain. With consistent rainfall, their hydroelectric plants can produce a plethora of energy.
Lastly, the population is small and their workforce is not intensive manufacturing, which means their energy requirements are not as large as some countries.
The future of renewable energy in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has been focused on environmental sustainability from the outset, and they are working hard to keep it a priority in the future. Here is what is in store.
Recently approved to be built, Costa Rica is constructing THREE 50 MW geothermal power plants costing $954 million. It should be known, this is no cheap investment…especially for a small country that is 50th in GDP.
However, the country is taking advantage of their dozen volcanoes (5 of which are active) and investing in the future by showing the world they stand for environmental sustainability.
But it doesn’t stop there. Costa Rica is also unveiling a 305.5 MW hydroelectric plant that is set to power over half a million homes…which is A LOT, considering there are less than 5 million people in the entire country.
What do you think?
How do you feel about investing in renewable energy?