Costa Rica's electricity was produced almost entirely from renewable sources in 2016

Around 15 per cent of US electricity supply was renewable

Peter Walker
Monday 02 January 2017 12:44
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The Reventazon River hydropower dam is, according to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), the larget public infrastructure project in Central America after the Panama Canal
The Reventazon River hydropower dam is, according to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), the larget public infrastructure project in Central America after the Panama Canal

Almost all Costa Rica's electricity was produced by renewable energy in 2016, continuing its reputation as a “verdant gem” among a pile of “black coal rocks”.

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said that around 98.1 per cent of the country’s electricity came from green sources.

These included large hydropower facilities, fed by a myriad of rivers and heavy seasonal rains, geothermal plants, wind turbines, solar panels and biomass plants.

A worker cleans the panels in a solar power park run by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) on March 26, 2015 in Guanacaste, Costa Rica Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The country used carbon-free electricity for more than 250 days last year with a continuous 110-day stretch from 17 June until 6 October.

A brief blip after that, when fossil fuel plants were switched on, was followed by another clean stint until at least 13 December, according to an ICE spokesman quoted by Mashable.

Science and environment journalist Maria Gallucci described the tropical country as "a verdant gem amid a pile of black coal rocks".

Costa Rica used 98.9 per cent renewable energy in 2015.

In comparison, less than 15 per cent of the US electricity supply for January to October 2016 was renewable, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Coal and natural gas together made up nearly two-thirds of the US electricity generation over that period and nuclear power provided the remaining 19 per cent.

ICE president Carlos Manuel Obregón said he expected renewable power generation to stay “stable” in Costa Rica in 2017.

Renewable energy is making waves in Europe

The country, which hosts more than five per cent of the world’s species biodiversity despite a landmass that covers 0.03 per cent of the planet, has recently set up four new wind farms.

Costa Rican clean development adviser Dr Monica Araya has said the extent of Costa Rica's renewable electricity generation is a “fantastic achievement".

But she added: “It hides a paradox, which is that nearly 70 per cent of all our [Costa Rica's] energy consumption is oil.”

The 98.1 per cent figure only refers to electricity usage, not gas used for heating or fuel used in vehicles, for example.

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