Costa Rica deserves a round of applause from, well, the entire rest of the world.
Thanks mostly to heavy rains, the Central American country has powered its cities for 75 days straight using 100% renewable energy.
No wonder the country's best-known phrase is "pura vida" (which translates to "pure life").
According to the state-owned power supplier Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the nation normally gets renewable energy contributions from a mix of solar, geothermal, and wind power. But because of heavy downpours at four hydroelectric power facilities recently, there has been no need to burn fossil fuels to generate electricity for the months of January, February and so far March.
Keep in mind, though, that Costa Rica is a relatively small nation — it's half the size of Kentucky, inhabited by less than 5 million people — and doesn't have much of an energy-intensive manufacturing industry. Agriculture and tourism are its main industries. Plus, its land is covered in topographical features like volcanoes that lend themselves to renewable energy.
Still, the country has done a stand-up job supplying affordable and reliable power to its citizens. RenewEconomy reports that Costa Rica ranks second after Uruguay in Latin America for providing a household coverage rate of 99.4% at some of the region's lowest prices.
As recently as last year, the nation generated as much as 80% of its electricity from hydropower, while geothermal energy — from all the volcanoes — was reported back in 2010 to account for about 13% of its electricity.
And its work is not even close to done. In mid-2014, the Costa Rican government approved a $958 million proposal for several big new geothermal plants.
Costa Rica announced in early 2007 that it aimed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021. With about 88% of its electricity currently coming from renewable sources, it seems to be well on its way to its goal. Let's just hope the steady rainfall continues.
Either way, 100% renewable energy generation, for any extended period of time, is a remarkable feat.
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