Costa Rica has achieved a clean energy milestone by using 100 per cent renewable energy for a record 75 days in a row.
The feat was achieved thanks to heavy rainfall, which powered four hydroelectric plants in the first three months of the year, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute said.
No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014, in the state which is renowned for its clean energy policies.
While Costa Rica is a small country, with a popular of about 4.8 million people, it has made great strides in its use of renewable energy.
Last year 80 per cent of the energy used came from hydropower, while geothermal energy made up about 10 per cent of the mix in the volcano-strewn nation. Currently 94 per cent of Costa Rica’s energy needs are met by renewables.
New geothermal projects are already in the planning stages, to ensure that the Central American state does not have to rely on fossil fuels in the future.
Eco-friendly cities: in pictures
Eco-friendly cities: in pictures
1/10 1. Copenhagen, Denmark
55% of residents in the Danish capital cycle to work or school, and over 30% of public transport uses renewable fuel. The city is also aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2025.
2/10 2. Stockholm, Sweden
All trains in the Swedish capital run on renewable fuels, and buses run on a hybrid of ethanol and electricity. The city also has seven nature reserves which improve air quality.
3/10 3. Hamburg, Germany
The German city, which was the European Green Capital in 2011, uses 200,000 low-energy lamps across 400 public buildings. 3,000 hectares of state-owned parkland are also available for the million people who use them every week.
4/10 4. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
There are over 130,000 trees and 90km of bicycle lanes in this northern city of Spain. Citizens also have access to 210 organic farming plots, and there is a public green space within 300 metres of every house.
5/10 5. Nantes, France
As the first city in France to re-introduce electric tramways, Nantes has set itself targets to reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. 15% of daily travels are undertaken on public transport, and only 11% of rubbish goes to landfill.
6/10 6. Bristol, UK
The birthplace of Banksy and this year’s European Green Capital, Bristol employs around 9000 people in its low carbon economy initiative. Additionally, 34% of the city is made up of green and blue open spaces and homes have become 25% more efficient over the last decade.
7/10 7. Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Slovenian capital has a pedestrian-only city-centre and 94% of residents take part in the organic waste collection system. With over 190km of cycle paths and almost all residents living less than 300m from public transport, the city has promoted environmentally-friendly ways of travelling.
8/10 8. Oslo, Norway
The Norweigan capital has the world’s most electric cars per capita, reducing emissions by 50% since 1991. With the aim to make public transport fossil fuel-free by 2020, the city’s authority is making sure residents are as eco-friendly as possible.
9/10 9. Brussels, Belgium
Best known for its beer and chocolate, the city which is home to the European Parliament, reduced CO2 emissions by 13,000 tonnes between 2007 and 2009. By 2018, it hopes to have reduced car traffic by 20% from its 2001 level.
10/10 10. Nijmegen, Netherlands
Located on the River Waal, this lesser-known Dutch city fuels its buses with biogas and citizen participation is encouraged through multiple green initiatives. Around 14,000 homes are heated using a network of waste heat, and the city aims to be energy neutral by 2040.
The government approved a US$958 million geothermal project in mid-2014.
The first plant, when completed, is expected to produce 55 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 55,000 homes. A further two 50 megawatt plants will be built nearby.
Jake Richardson, of Clean Technica, said it was important the country did not become too dependent on hydropower.
“It’s good news that more geothermal will be coming on board, as there are obvious downsides of being too reliant on hydropower, especially run-of-the-river systems, which can be hindered by seasonal changes in water flow,” he told Science Alert.
“Droughts can also severely impact power supplies. And there are also some environmental downsides to hydroelectric dams more generally, namely the impact on riparian ecosystems and passing fish.”
It helps that Costa Rica, which aims to be carbon-neutral by 2021, has excellent infrastructure.
The World Economic Forum ranked the country second in Latin America, behind Uruguay, for its electricity and telecommunications infrastructure in its 2014 Global Competitiveness Index.
In a sign of how committed Costa Rica is to renewables the government has decided not to exploit rich oil deposits - discovered along the country’s Caribbean coast - for environmental reasons.