For a country that pioneered the concept of clean energy in Latin America, the reputation of ‘green nation’ is totally well deserved. According to the ICE, a Costa Rican state-owned company that controls electric energy generation, transmission, and distribution, Costa Rica ran entirely on renewable energy for 300 days of 2017. It is yet to reach zero carbon transport and that goal is far from reality right now, but its strong emphasis on decarbonization has sent a strong message to the world.
Of the total energy generated, nearly 80% of its power came from hydroelectric sources, around 10% came from wind energy and the rest from solar and biomass energy. Over the past four years, the country has generated 98.53% of its electricity from renewable sources and as per the latest data, just 1.47% of the country’s power from June 1, 2014, to June 30, 2018, was generated using fossil fuels. This tremendous feat has opened up doors of numerous possibilities for other countries that wish to reach sufficient alternative energy generation target.
So what can other nations learn from Costa Rica’s example? How has the country managed to walk the path of development while keeping its environmental treasures intact?
Costa Rica’s special advantage
In many ways, Costa Rica’s success was the result of the perfect storm. It was a near-perfect confluence of events that led to Costa Rica’s success. Here are the two main factors that can be mainly attributed to Costa Rica’s success as a green nation:
Abundance of Natural Resources: Costa Rica has been bestowed with a wealth of renewable energy sources. As mentioned earlier, 80% of its power generation is from hydropower; thanks to a large river system and heavy tropical rainfalls. The rest comes from a mix of geothermal energy, wind, biomass and solar power.
Small Population: Bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, the tiny republic of Costa Rica has just under 5 million people spread over a relatively small area of land that is blessed with natural resources. A small population means less energy demands.
Of course, the conditions were in Costa Rica’s favor but that doesn’t undermine the country’s phenomenal efforts towards its clean energy goals. Other countries have a lot to learn from the country’s success.
What Other Countries can Learn from Costa Rica’s Success?
Costa Rica has set an example for other countries aspiring to move towards sustainability. While no other nation can currently match Costa Rica’s success, at least at this point, there are sure many lessons they can learn from Costa Rica’s success.
And it’s not that the country has achieved perfection. It is still very much dependent on fossil fuels and oil for heating and transportation. But its efforts did not go unnoticed. The country has also successfully managed to support the rising demand for electricity over the last few years.
- Keep working towards betterment: Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the nation’s success story is that it keeps pushing itself to outdo itself. The sustainable infrastructure of Costa Rica’s grid was not built overnight. The country continues to build it to make it more environmentally friendly for a better future.
- Sustainability is achievable: While today every nation discusses sustainability and sets aside goals to achieve it, there was always a need for a country to lead the way. It was Costa Rica that first stepped up and showed others that sustainability is achievable. While other nations might not be able to equal their green efficiency yet, Costa Rica has consistently proven that progress can be made alongside a strong economy while keeping nature’s treasures intact.
- Advancements in green technology: Driven primarily by consumers, innovation in the green sector has taken off. With information just a click away, today’s customer is better educated and more aware than ever before. They make green choices in their everyday lives. This is driving innovation in the field of green technology.
- Climate change is real: As the world struggles with various calamities and climate-related issues, looks like global warming has already started taking its toll on the planet. It adds an urgency to a motivation and innovation to the populace to demand change. While it is understandable that there is currently no magic solution that can offer a quick fix to the damage already done, but progress can and will be made to ensure our survival as a species.
Costa Rica’s commitment to clean energy is receiving applause from all quarters. The country has been consistently named by multiple organizations as one of the greenest countries on the earth.
The Road Ahead for Costa Rica
Continuing its commitment to clean energy, Costa Rica has announced a goal of complete carbon neutrality by 2021 by nurturing its forests and promoting biofuels, hybrid vehicles, and clean energy. It won’t ban fossil fuels but will phase them out through new policies and incentives to ultimately render them useless.
With the country’s sustainability plans for the future, it looks like the country plans to take up the leadership role in the global climate conversation.
- Costa Rica is constructing three 50 MW geothermal power plants which will cost $954 million. This is a big investment, especially for a small country that is 50th in GDP.
- The country is also unveiling a 305.5 MW hydroelectric plant that is set to power over half a million homes.
Costa Rica today proudly stands as a country that has taken commendable steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Costa Rica’s story could have been like the story of any other developing country that goes for the short-term option, but the country chose to take decisions that now have paid off. Such crisp decisions and a clear long-term vision are exactly what other countries need to deal with the issue of CO2 emissions and rising global temperatures to make this world a better place.