Zero Carbon for 75 days
Costa Rica managed to do without electricity from Fossil fuels for the first 75 days of 2015, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced last month.
Above average rainfall has enabled Costa Rica’s hydroelectricity power stations to supply the bulk of the electricity required by the country (68%), with Geothermal plants providing about 15%, wind power 5% and the rest made up from Solar and Biomass. In 2009 Costa Rica announced its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2021 – and with 88% of its energy requirements being fulfilled by renewable energy already, this doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly approved a geothermal project last year valued at $958m, which the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the European Investment Bank are helping to pay for, and in 2012 ICE announced projects to develop 100 MW worth of wind farms and 40 MW of hydroelectric plants during 2015.
Costa Rica leads the way on other environmental protection and conservation issues too, in 2010 the country was awarded the Future Policy Award for policies that use funds from fees and taxes to preserve natural spaces. Costa Rica also remunerates landowners to plant trees and not cut down existing forests – helping to expand forest coverage from 24% in 1985 to 46% in 2010.
Of course, all this infrastructure requires funding, and since Costa Rica abolished its military in 1948, funds have been available for matters closer to home, such as Education, Healthcare and the environment.
The biggest barrier to becoming carbon neutral as a nation will be the switch for things that don’t run on electricity, such as transportation – but, according to Monica Araya, of Costa Rican think tank Nivela, it can be done – and with the government leading the way, and a 12% reduction in consumer energy costs from using renewable energy for their electricity – you can understand her conviction.