Finding sources of green energy is the next major move if the world has any hope in staving off catastrophic climate change. One amazing story that is inspiring hope in this global movement towards a more sustainable future originates in Costa Rica, which is already well on its way towards a greener future. Having set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2021, this developing nation in Central America has already achieved 99% of its electricity produced from renewable sources this year, according the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).
After the newly adopted Paris climate agreement, it is clear that the world is continuing to embrace the idea of transitioning towards a future where fossil fuel reliance is a thing of the past. Costa Rica is currently on the forefront of this clean-energy transition, further emphasizing the world’s potential to head down the right path. Andrea Watson, section manager for strategy and implementation at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, said in an interview with Huffington Post: “The idea out of the agreement wasn’t that everyone will cut their emissions by this much, or that everyone must convert to renewable energy, but rather, every country will take an individualized approach to ambitious renewable energy goals — one that works best for them and their development goals.”
Costa Rica is unique in a variety of ways. It has a small population and energy use per household is relativity low, especially in comparison to countries such as the US. The economy is primarily driven by tourism and agriculture, as opposed to manufacturing. Costa Rica also has a wealth of natural advantages that feed its renewable energy sources. A bulk of the country’s clean energy is produced through hydro-power, generated by an extensive river system, and heavy tropical rainfalls. Other sources include geothermal energy (which is also abundant), wind, biomass, and solar power.
These natural sources contributed to the country’s ability to power its grid on 100% renewable sources for a record-breaking 285 days. Furthermore, overall energy costs fell by 12% this year and ICE expects it to continue to drop.
Moving forward, Costa Rica seeks to diversify its renewable electricity system and further emphasize ecologically sustainable technologies, by utilizing solar energy, small wind turbines, and geothermal plants in order to become less dependent on hydro-power. Seeking a wide array of alternatives is critical in establishing a reliable network of renewable energy sources.
This little country’s progress is an inspiration to others, and only a handful of nations–which includes Albania, Paraguay, and Iceland–currently run on 100% renewable electricity. While it may seem as though the rest of the world has a long way to go before reaching the same milestones as Costa Rica, its eco progress can also serve as inspiration, providing hope for a greener future.