Costa Rica's electricity generated by renewable energy for 300 days in 2017

Central American nation set to smash its own 2015 green power record

Tom Embury-Dennis
Wednesday 22 November 2017 12:26 GMT
Solar panels produce a small part of Costa Rica's 99 percent renewable energy production
Solar panels produce a small part of Costa Rica's 99 percent renewable energy production

Costa Rica’s electricity has been produced entirely using renewable energy for 300 days since the start of January.

With more than a month of 2017 to go, the Central American country is set to smash its own annual record of green energy use. In 2015 the nation went 299 days using only renewables.

According to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), the nation of five-million people has also clocked up 201 consecutive days of total renewable energy production since 1 May.

Costa Rica currently generates more than 99 per cent of its electricity using five different renewable sources; hydropower (78%), wind (10%), geothermal energy (10%), biomass and solar (1%).

In contrast, the United States generated about 15 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

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

Costa Rica's renewable energy

Costa Rican clean development adviser Dr Monica Araya said earlier this year 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 energy consumption is oil.”

The 99 per cent figure only refers to electricity usage, not gas used for heating or fuel used in vehicles, for example.

Costa Rica hosts more than five per cent of the world’s species biodiversity despite a landmass that covers 0.03 per cent of the planet.

While dams provided the majority of the country’s electricity, they can have destructive environmental and social consequences, such as affecting previously healthy rivers, disrupting wildlife and displacing indigenous communities.

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