Costa Rica’s Electricity Becomes Nightmare for Oil Barons

Cachi Hydroelectric Plant, Costa Rica.

Credit: PD Photo

“The last time we used a fossil fuel plant to generate electricity was June 16,” stated the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) at the beginning of this week. That is more than 80 straight days of 100% green energy production Costa Rica has lasted on. This magnificent achievement must have been a nightmare for oil barons. This has happened for the first time in the history of this planet – the mother earth. Thus Costa Rica takes the lead in renewable energy in Central America.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in 2015 Costa Rica produced an average 99% of its power requirement from renewable sources, out of that total of 285 days it was on 100% renewable. Last week news agencies and renewable energy establishments across the globe flashed Costa Rica’s most recent renewable feat of producing renewable electric energy during 150 days of this year. As per the Costa Rican Electricity Institute in August 2016, 80% of its electricity was produced by hydroelectric plants, geothermal plants accounted for 12.6% and the balance came from wind and solar.

Heavy rains helped the nation’s four huge hydroelectric dams run above their typical capacity, which let the country turn off the diesel generators last year and this year. But this need not devalue Costa Rica’s accomplishment. Costa Rica has a goal to be carbon neutral in six years from now and it is inching closer to that goal very fast. Today it runs on nothing but renewable only compared that to the U.S., the renewables generate only around 13% of electricity.

No doubt Costa Rica is tiny in comparison with the US. Its population is only about the size of Alabama state. It is also true most of the population is relatively poor as compared to the United States hence energy usage is low. Costa Rica’s economy depends on tourism and agriculture, not on energy-dependent manufacturing industries. The country also has some natural advantages, is filled with volcanoes, and hence can tap the geothermal power. But the awareness of the country about the environment and the determination and dedication to become carbon neutral is what counts on more than these facts.

The policymakers of the country are aware of the fact that the ‘drought’ situation can put them in trouble due to their dependence on the hydroelectric plants; hence they are heavily investing in geothermal projects too.

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