While the rest of the world argues over the legitimacy of climate change and the need to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, Costa Rica continues to smash its own renewable energy records. In 2015, the Central American nation generated 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources for 299 days. And last year, the country ran for 271 days on clean energy.
Now, citizens are celebrating the country’s latest achievement: having run for 300 days on a mixture of hydro, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar energy. The development is a timely one, for the government plans to become carbon neutral by 2021. That deadline was set more than 10 years ago, reports Science Alert.
The news was revealed in a report by the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE). Carlos Manuel Obregón, the executive president of ICE, said improvements to the grid, as well as upgrades to a number of clean energy power plants, have made the monumental achievement possible. “The regulatory reservoirs offer us a guarantee to maximize the use of variable sources, mainly water on the edge and wind, and in parallel to supply the contribution of geothermal energy,” he explained.
With just six weeks left in 2017, it is possible Costa Rica will set another record for the number of days it can run entirely on renewable energy.
While this latest news is laudable, it is important to point out that Costa Rica differs both in size and population when compared to other nations, such as China and the US. The country also has access to more natural resources (specifically, geothermal and hydropower). Furthermore, Costa Rica has no plans to replace the million or so cars that still use internal combustion engines. Because they churn out carbon dioxide, they negatively affect both air quality and the climate.
Of course, unlike these countries, Costa Rica had the foresight to not invest in fossil fuels. Additionally, its government is not easily manipulated by the fossil fuel industry. That alone has propelled the country’s sustainable efforts.
Despite these considerations, Costa Rica’s latest achievement still deserves recognition. The small country has proven several times that it is possible to live in harmony with the Earth while sustaining a healthy economy. Every year, its tourism industry brings in billions of dollars. In 2008, for instance, just over 2 million tourists visited the eco-friendly nation, bringing in over $2.14 billion in revenue.
As Monica Araya, the founder of renewable energy initiative group Costa Rica Limpia, said in a 2016 TED talk,
“It really is time to debunk the myth that a country has to choose between development on the one hand and environmental protection, renewables, quality of life, on the other.”
The country’s example might be most inspiring to small nations, such as those scattered in Africa and South East Asia. With the right tools, education and support system, countries such as Kenya and Bali may become clean energy havens — and it’s all thanks to Costa Rica’s example.
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h/t Science Alert