by Anna Scanlon

Costa Rica has hit a new milestone: the country has been running on 100% renewable energy for the past 2 months solid, which is an amazing achievement in terms of sustainable energy. This is the second time in 2 years that this occurred.

Right now, the country is leading the way in renewable energy, as this new streak tacks on from 150 days where only geothermal and hydrothermal power generation were used. The country hopes to become totally carbon-neutral by 2021. [1]

While this is an amazing feat, it should be emphasized that Costa Rica hasn’t stopped using fossil fuels altogether. The country still has around 1 million cars that rely on it, so they use imported oil for around half of the energy needs of the nation. All we can really hope for is improvement.

Costa Rica, however, is unique in many ways, which makes using this kind of energy possible. For example, they rely on hydroelectric dams for most of the country’s power, thanks to 2 years of heavier-than-average rainfall. In 2014, when the country suffered a severe drought, they switched back to diesel generators. [2]

It should also be noted that the amount of energy required to power the country is relatively low compared to other nations. This is partially because Costa Rica has a population of less than 5 million people, and it is a poorer nation, meaning it doesn’t require the same energy expenditure as richer countries. Costa Rica currently has a GDP of $10,200 per person.

While Iceland has been able to focus on using renewable energy almost exclusively, this is mostly because the country is relatively small, with a population of 323,000. Because of this, the amount of electricity required is not as excessive as the United States, Canada, and other countries in Europe. [3]

Source: Observatory of Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean
Source: Observatory of Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean

Read: This State Set The Record By Powering 6 Million Homes With Solar Energy

As an example, for the United States to emulate Costa Rica’s renewable energy would be quite a challenge. Currently, the USA only relies on hydrothermal power for 7% of its power. Many people in Costa Rica also still rely on fires for heating, despite its health concerns, lessen the country’s carbon footprint.

Hydrothermal power isn’t feasible for many countries, as almost all bodies of water would have to be dammed in order to harness enough water power to do so. This would displace many people and animals, making it a truly unique source for a country like Costa Rica.

As an interesting bit to throw in at the end here, you can watch this video of someone commenting on Costa Rica’s situation – added for conversational purposes (no connection to the speaker or his other videos).

About Anna Scanlon:
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history. You can find out more about Anna and her books on her lifestyle blog


[1] Grupo ICE


[3] IFLScience!

Renenergy Observatory