An astounding achievement has been made by Costa Rica. This Central American Nation has been running off of 100% sustainable renewable energy for the past 76 days. This follows 150 other days this year that they have been able to live off of their geothermal and hydrothermal power. Last year Costa Rica was able to generate fossil free electricity for 300 days.
This is an excellent achievement that many countries should try and model, especially since climate change is becoming a major topic. Interestingly enough, the recent rainfall that helps power these hydrothermal dams is attributed to the climate change that we are experiencing.
Costa Rica has made it a primary objective to focus on environmental sustainability development, and plans on becoming carbon neutral by 2021.
With that being said Costa Rica is a relatively small country with access to large river networks that allow for such a feat to be accomplished. Its small population of 4.87 million also means that the amount of energy required to provide power to all is smaller than many other nations. Its GDP (about $10,200 per person) is also relatively low, and poorer nations tend to require and use less energy than wealthier, more developed ones.
Iceland – a far wealthier (GDP $47,500 per person) but far less populous (323,000) country, is comparable in terms of how it produces energy. Like Costa Rica, it has almost no need for other power sources, including wind, nuclear, biomass or fossil fuels.
Other more populous countries hoping to lower their carbon footprint aren’t so lucky. In order to do this, they must restructure the way their energy is created, which is a more difficult task when such a large populous is involved.
There’s also the fact that Costa Rica, like Iceland, isn’t a 100 percent fossil fuel free nation. Its electricity supply more or less is, but its energy supply isn’t. This covers other forms of power production, such as that used by transportation. As reported by Vox, the nation still has one million cars running on “outdated” hydrocarbons, and as a result, imported oil supplies over half the nation’s energy demands.
This shows just how much transportation hinders the clean energy revolution. Many nations are switching over to electric grids and becoming more environmentally sustainable, but transportation will lag behind for some time.
Ultimately, Costa Rica (as of 2014) produces 7.8 million tonnes (8.6 million tons) of carbon emissions per year. Nearby Brazil produces 65 times that, and the US emits 713 times more. China is ahead of the pack by far, generating 1,241 times the carbon emissions as Costa Rica.
Colsta Rica’s has set a good example of where a nations priorities should be. Hopefully the world follows suite.