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Costa Rica generated electricity using only renewables for 300 days this year

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 23/11/2017 Harriet Pavey

Costa Rica powered its electricity using only renewable energy sources for 300 days this year.

Smashing its own record of 250 days of renewable-only power in 2016, the Central American country has gone most of the year so far without resorting to fossil fuels.

According to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), the nation of five-million people managed to go 200 days in a row relying solely on renewables for electric power.

ICE figures show 99.62 per cent of the country’s electricity production is now generated from five renewable sources.

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Wind power provides over 10 per cent of Costa Rica's electricity (AFP/Getty)

The primary source is hydropower, which provides 78.26 per cent of Costa Rican electricity. This is followed by wind power (10.29 per cent), geothermal energy (10.23 per cent), biomass and solar (0.84 per cent) and hydrocarbons (0.38 per cent).

When renewable sources are unavailable, the Costa Rican grid defaults to a thermal backup to generate power. It hasn’t had to do that since 1 May, marking 200-day streak relying just on renewables, and 300 days in total.

Costa Rica’s energy mix is in sharp contrast to that of the United States, which generated about 15 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2016.

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Volcanoes source of the steam to power this geothermal power plant run by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (Getty)

Meanwhile coal and natural gas made up nearly two-thirds of US electricity generation and nuclear power provided the remaining 19 per cent.

"It really is time to debunk the myth that a country has to choose between development on the one hand and environmental protection, renewables, quality of life, on the other," the founder of renewable energy initiative group Costa Rica Limpia, Monica Araya, said in a 2016 TED talk.

Costa Rica benefits from an abundance of rainfall which sources the country’s vast hydropower network.

As of the second quarter of 2017, renewables generated 29.8 per cent of the UK’s electricity.

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