The 305.5-MW Reventazon hydroelectric plant on the Reventazon River, located in the Limon province of Costa Rica.
The 305.5-MW Reventazon hydroelectric plant on the Reventazon River, located in the Limon province of Costa Rica.

(QCOSTARICA) Costa Rica is pioneering the future of running on renewable energy and may be the model for future countries to follow suit.

By the year 2021, Costa Rica plans to be completely carbon neutral.

Since they’ve already operated on only renewable energy (much more difficult) for 299 days in the last two years, it is definitely possible.

Carbon Neutral vs 100% Renewable Energy

Before we get too deep in this, let’s have a firm understanding of the difference between what is considered ‘carbon neutral’ and ‘100% renewable.’

Here is the definition of carbon neutrality:

Having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference.

In other words, a country can be considered carbon neutral while still using fossil fuels by planting trees that offset the carbon, or funding conservation programs which aim to reduce the amount of carbon in the air.

A country using 100% renewable energy, however, is the process using sources of energy that will never run out. In other words, no fossil fuels.

Leading the world in carbon neutrality

For almost 300 days, the country of Costa Rica has run on a combination of:  hydropower, geothermal, wind, & solar energy.

That means, the government did not burn any oil, coal, or natural gas to power the country.

No other country this size has come close to a feat like this.

For example, Portugal was recently praised in the news for running on 100% renewables for 4 days. Which is amazing, but also a testament for Costa Rica’s 299 days over the last 2 years.

Here’s how they did it

Costa Rica invested early in the power of renewable energy resources and made it a priority to become environmentally sustainable.

Because of that, the country has abundance of geothermal renewable sources that account for much of the necessary energy to make the country successfully function.

Also, Costa Rica can get a lot of rain. With consistent rainfall, their hydroelectric plants can produce a plethora of energy.

Lastly, the population is small and their workforce is not manufacturing intensive, which means their energy requirements are not as large as some countries.

The future

Costa Rica has been focused on environmental sustainability from the outset and they are working hard to keep it a priority in the future. Here is what is in store.

Recently approved to be built, Costa Rica is constructing THREE 50 MW geothermal power plants costing $954 million. It should be known, this is no cheap investment…especially for a small country that is 50th in GDP.

However, the country is taking advantage of their dozen volcanoes (5 of which are active) and investing in the future by showing the world they stand for environmental sustainability.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Costa Rica is also unveiling a 305.5 MW hydroelectric plant that is set to power over half a million homes…which is A LOT considering there are less than 5 million people in the entire country.

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