The example of energy transition and sustainable development in Central America



Hydroelectric power in Cachí, Cartago. ©ICE.

There is one country in the world where the commitment to make the energy transition and create sustainable development is a reality. This country is none other than Costa Rica. So, how does this country manage to produce all its electricity in a clean way?

An ecologically attractive country

Costa Rica is more than a tourist destination; it’s an interactive sensory experience. The country has intense environmental attractions : majestic volcanoes, cloud and mist-covered forests, beautiful river valleys and hundreds of beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Costa Rica has a fascinating ecological history, woven into the history of a peaceful and family-oriented culture.

In addition to being a beautiful tropical paradise and a beloved tourist destination, Costa Rica takes extraordinary steps to become as environmentally conscious as possible. It is thus recognized for its strong commitment to energy transition policies.

The country is committed to cultivating its forest cover, banning single-use plastic and, to date, has been operating almost entirely on renewable energy for 300 days.

Huge figures for renewable energy consumption in 2017

Costa Rica has a head start on environmental issues. The proof is with this record set in the context of its energy transition: 300 days of renewable energy. This is a historic mark for the country, which in 2015 had reached 299 days with 100% renewable energy, and in 2016, it was 271 days [ed]. The country has just completed 300 days during which its electrical system operated with exclusively renewable sources, mainly water, informed the national energy organization. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said in a statement that on November 17, it reached the 300-day mark without the need to activate thermal power plants.

The figures for 2017 could increase in the remaining weeks until the end of the year, according to ICE. The good news does not stop there because according to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), the country of Central America also reaches 201 consecutive days producing only the so-called ecological energy since May 1st.

A big step towards sustainable development

Living in environmental virtues and sustainable development remains a constant battle in all countries, whether because of lucrative contracts, corrupt policies or poaching and illegal logging. Nevertheless, Costa Rica has seized the opportunities to exploit its vast natural resources for valuable products, despite the high density of precious metals in the South Pacific, oil along the Pacific coast and rare hardwoods in the rainforest. Instead, Costa Rica has opted for an ethic of sustainable development and a commitment to developing renewable energy. Already, Costa Rica is on track to become the first carbon-neutral country, with 99% of the country’s energy needs thanks to a combination of geothermal, hydroelectric and wind energy.

A strong renewable energy potential

At present, the country generates over 99% of its electricity from natural sources; production is based on 78.26% of hydroelectric plants, 10.29% of wind turbines, 10.23% of geothermal energy (volcanoes) and 0.84% ​​of biomass and sun. The remaining 0.38% came from thermal power stations fueled by hydrocarbons, explained the ICE.

Hydroelectric power is the energy most used by Ticos[1]. This energy is obtained from the cascade and manifests itself as mechanical energy (potential and kinetic). This is mainly because the country has abundant water resources. They diversified their sources by exploiting new wind and solar power plants.

Costa Rica is a country with high potential for exploiting geothermal energy because of its location in the circumpacific fire belt, in addition to the large number of volcanoes that it is on all the territory. This type of energy is among the most economical, produces low-impact environmental waste and is independent of climatic conditions.

  1. [1] Tico (feminine tica, plural ticos, ticas) is a colloquial term for a native of Costa Rica. Costa Ricans are usually called ticos by themselves and persons of other Spanish-speaking countries, in place of the more formal costarricenses.


Sources :

Modelo Eléctrico, Orgullo de los Costarricenses

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