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Costa Rica Is On A 113-Day Streak Using 100% Renewable Electricity

With a little luck and a lot of initiative, Costa Rica is a sustainable energy powerhouse.

Costa Rica Is On A 113-Day Streak Using 100% Renewable Electricity

[Photo: Flickr user Dennis Tang]

Costa Rica has managed to run on renewable energy for 113 days straight, putting it on course to break its own record from 2015, when it relied on nothing but renewables for 285 days of the year. In total, Costa Rica provided 99% of its energy needs last year with renewables alone.

The country's geography helps a lot. The majority of this power comes from hydroelectric plants, which are possible thanks to lots of rain and lots of mountains. But Costa Rica is also diversifying, with ventures in geothermal energy, and also solar—after all, a country doesn't want to rely on a single source for all its power, especially in these times of unpredictable climate change.

In five years, Costa Rica plans to be carbon neutral. With electricity, this is completely achievable, it seems. But it still runs its cars on gasoline, so switching to electric cars will be far harder. The governments plans on work on offsetting those carbon emissions in other ways.

As we wrote last year, Costa Rica has other factors that help it meet these goals. It doesn't rely on heavy industry or manufacturing, which means its energy needs are relatively modest. And its people are relatively poor, so they consume less of everything.

Renewables are gaining everywhere. Germany often manages to go for a day at a time on renewables alone, and Portugal did four days straight earlier this year. Interestingly, it seems that less affluent countries are doing just as well as places like Scandinavia, which is always at the forefront of such green initiatives. In fact, the worst performers when it comes to renewables might be the richest countries. The U.S., for example, only managed to generate 13.4% of its energy from renewables in 2015. And it's the richest countries that use the most power, making this pathetic figure even more embarrassing.

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