Costa Rica has achieved a milestone in the quest for renewable, sustainable energy. The small country has a total area of 51 000 square kilometres, and a population of 4.8 million. Since January, the country has functioned on 100% renewable power – thatâ€™s over 75 straight days! According to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the ability to sustain the country on renewable energy was due to heavy rainfalls at four hydroelectric plants and the use of geothermal energy.
Though Costa Rica is primarily known for its tourism and agriculture industries, the government has recently commissioned a project to develop the geothermal resources of Costa Rica and take advantage of a country rich with volcanoes. The Costa Rican government has approved US$958 million to be spent on the project, with the first plants costing $333 million and able to generate 55MW, and another two to be built nearby that can generate 50MW.
The balance of geothermal is important when considering the flaws of hydroelectric power, which can be severely impacted by droughts and seasonal changes in water flow. Hydro dams also damage or alter the ecosystem surrounding them.
However, Costa Rica has a great track record in terms of exploring renewable energy sources. In an index compiled by the World Economic Forum, titled the 2014 Global Competitiveness Index, ranks Costa Rica as second in Latin America in terms of energy development.
Nonetheless, what Costa Rica has accomplished is impressive and inspirational. Being able to operate a country on 100 percent renewable power is amazing. Not to mention, they have managed to supply power at a coverage rate of 99.4 percent, at some of their lowest prices!