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150 Days and Counting, Costa Rica Gets All of Its Electricity From Renewables

Clean power superstar Costa Rica has hit another renewable energy milestone. The Central American country's electric grid has been powered entirely by its mix of hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass for 150 days this year and counting.

Costa Rica has a goal of only using green energy sources and carbon neutrality by 2021.Flickr

Impressively, as Mashable reported, the country has not used fossil fuels for electricity for the last 76 days, from June 16 to Sept. 2, according to data from the country's power operator, Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE).

According to an ICE report, hydropower contributed about 80 percent of the country's electricity needs in August, followed by geothermal (12 percent), wind (7 percent) and solar energy (0.01 percent).

Costa Rica hasn't needed to rely on fossil fuels for electricity since June 16. "Since then, it's been 76 consecutive days in which all electricity has come from plants that use renewable resources," the ICE said.

"We are a small country with great goals!" ICE wrote on Facebook. "We remain committed to the goal of carbon neutrality for 2021."

Costa Rica is becoming well-known for its renewable energy accomplishments. Last year, the country generated nearly all of its electricity from renewables.

"We close 2015 with 99 percent clean energy!" ICE announced, adding that "the energy produced … in 2015 reaches 98.95 percent with renewable sources as of December 17."

"We are closing 2015 with renewable electricity milestones that have put us in the global spotlight," ICE electricity division chief Luis Pacheco told AFP last year.

Carlos Manuel Obregón, the executive president of ICE, said Costa Rica will soon switch on its massive Reventazón hydroelectric project. The dam's five turbines will have a generating capacity of 305.5 megawatts, or enough power for an estimated 525,000 homes, according to The Tico Times.

As EcoWatch previously mentioned, the majority of the country's energy comes from hydropower, thanks to a vast river system and abundant rainfall. Hydropower, however, is not without its faults.

Gary Wockner of Save the Colorado argued that hydropower is actually "one of the biggest environmental problems our planet faces" and a "false solution" for addressing climate change.

"Hydropower has been called a 'methane factory' and 'methane bomb' that is just beginning to rear its ugly head as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions that have so-far been unaccounted for in climate change discussions and analyses," Wockner said last month.

The Guardian also noted last year that hydropower requires consistent rainfall, which means that during periods of drought, the country's utilities are all but forced to burn fuel.

Costa Rica's transportation sector is also still dependent on petroleum, and a new report from Costa Rica News indicates that the total fuel consumption is growing, with sales increasing 11 percent compared to the same period last year.

And for a small country like Costa Rica, it's simply easier to consume less.

As Mashable explained:

"This nation of 4.9 million people generated about 10,713 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2015, according to a July report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States, by contrast, generated about 373 times more electricity, with roughly 4 million gigawatt-hours of total generation in 2015, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration."

Still, even with these circumstances and setbacks, Costa Rica's latest clean energy streak is something to be admired and an example for other countries to follow.

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