Costa Rica Completes
Year of Renewable Energy
POWERING ENTIRE COUNTRIES (especially smaller ones)
without fossil fuels is possible. In 2016, Costa Rica’s electrical
grid mainly used renewable energy, the Costa Rican Electricity
Institute (ICE) stated in a Jan. 3 press release. The country went
271 days using only renewable-energy production.
Costa Rica produced 10,778.32 gigawatt-hours between Jan.
1–Dec. 31, and 98.1 percent came from renewable sources. Fossil
fuels made up the remaining 1. 9 percent.
This is down slightly from 2015, when Costa Rica used 98.9
percent renewable energy. However, this is the second time
in two years that the country ran for more than two months
on only renewable energy. In comparison, almost 15 percent
of the electricity supply for the United States, from January
through October 2016, came from hydroelectric, wind, solar
and other renewable power sources, according to the U.S.
Energy Information Administration. Coal and natural gas made
up almost two-thirds of the electricity generation during that
period, and the remaining 19 percent was nuclear power.
Most of Costa Rica’s electricity— 80. 27 percent of total
electricity produced in August, according to Science Alert—comes
from large hydropower facilities, fed by rivers and seasonal rains.
The rest of the country’s energy is produced by geothermal
plants ( 12. 62 percent in August) and wind turbines ( 7. 1 percent).
A small but growing share of electricity in Costa Rica comes
from biomass and solar power (0.01 percent in August). Diesel-burning power plants also contribute, but the country hasn’t
used them much since 2015.
Reventazón, a new hydroelectric project run by ICE that
became fully functional in September, offers added hydroelectric
power. The dam’s five turbines have the capacity to generate
305.5 megawatts, which is enough to power 525,000 homes,
according to the Tico Times.
Costa Rica’s smaller economy and abundant natural
resources give it the advantage over larger, energy-guzzling
countries. Costa Rica is half the size of Kentucky and generates
373 times less electricity than the United States.
ICE President Carlos Manuel Obregón said he expected
renewable-energy generation to remain stable in 2017, partly due
to the country’s four new wind farms.
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