Costa Rica is perhaps a small country, but targets high when it comes to clean energy. In 2015, 100 percent of its electricity was generated from renewable energy sources for 299 days, and for 271 days it used all but fossil fuels in 2016.
It now seems to have surpassed its 2015 achievements after 300 days of mixing energy from water, wind, geothermal sources, biomass and the Sun. This stunning record goes hand in hand with the government's plan for Costa Rica to be a carbon-neutral country by 2021, a deadline set more than 10 years ago.
According to a new report by the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), with an additional six weeks in 2017, the total number of days with clean energy seems to increase.
Carlos Manuel Obregón, executive president of ICE, explains that network enhancements and upgrades to various clean energy power plants have contributed to this new zenith.
Although this is a great news, some warnings are needed.
Small size and population of Costa Rica mean that it can accomplish these compelling goals without the same difficulties that we are, for example, currently facing China, the United States or countries within the EU. It also has an abundance of natural resources – notably hydropower and geothermal sources – which many countries lack.
However, it should be noted that Costa Rica has well predicted when it did not invest in fossil fuels, while others are. In addition, the said industry has no significant influence over its government, which has for decades delayed efforts to mitigate climate change
Yes, the influence of Costa Rica completely rejecting fossil fuels would, on a practical level, be pretty insignificant. It currently produces 1.241 times less greenhouse gases from China, for example, and its contribution to climate change is relatively small.
However, records like this turning point in the new renewable way have enormous symbolic power. They show that commitment to clean energy makes sense both on an ecological and socioeconomic level.
If nothing else, countries like Costa Rica show other developing countries – especially its neighbors, and a multitude of nations scattered around Africa – that you do not need coal to power your state when different forms of pure energy work perfectly well.
Problems still exist in Central America. Unlike many developed countries, Costa Rica does not plan to replace one or more of its cars still using dirty internal combustion engines that have a noticeable adverse effect on air quality and climate.
Yet, when it comes to energy, the richest countries on Earth lag behind areas like Costa Rica. In that sense, this piece of paradise is the keeper of the brighter days that come.
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