Costa Rica Has Been Running for Months on Nothing but Renewable Energy

©  EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images

By Gillie Houston Posted September 07, 2016

Its total for the year is 150 days and counting.

Think renewable energy isn't practical on a significant scale? Here's some news that should change your mind: Costa Rica recently powered itself using only electricity from renewable sources for 76 days straight, and the Central American country has managed to avoid burning fossil fuels to power its grid for a total of 150 days this year.

According to Mashable, the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) reports that between June 16 and September 2, carbon-free electricity powered the entirety of the nation of 4.9 million. While Costa Rica, which is about twice the size of Vermont, needs far less electricity to run than a larger country—like the United States—its success in implementing a more eco-friendly energy policy could pave the way for other nations to follow.

In 2015, Costa Ricans utilized about 10,713 gigawatt-hours of electricity—according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean—which paled in comparison to the 4 million gigawatt-hours generated by the United States in the same year. In recent years, the country decided to focus on fully utilizing its abundant sources of hydroelectric energy, including heavy rainfall and numerous rivers and waterways. By harnessing the power of these sources, the country was able to generate 80 percent of their electricity. The remaining electiricty was generated by geothermal plants (12.6 percent in August) and wind turbines (7.1) percent.

These energy sources were also vital to Costa Rica's 299 day fossil fuel-free record last year—one that might be hard to top in 2016. But, according to Carlos Manuel Obregon, the executive president of the country's Electricity Institute, this is just the beginning for the country. ICE is currently working on their Reventazon hydroelectric project, which will be the second largest infrastructure undertaking in Central America behind the Panama Canal. Once finished, the project—which has been under construction for six years and is slated to become operational this month—will generate 305.5 megawatts of energy, enough to power over a half million homes.

The Reventazon project stands to contribute even more to Costa Rica's outstanding efforts to eliminate burning oil, coal, and natural gas as energy sources. Now, if only the rest of the world would follow.

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