Costa Rica: renewables only for 75 days in a row

One key principle of the circular economy is that energy must come from renewable sources, and so far this year Costa Rica is reaping the benefits of investment in this area.

For the first 75 days of 2015 (and counting), the country has met all of its electricity needs using renewable sources only, according to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute. This achievement has resulted in significantly lower electricity costs for customers and has been attributed in part to recent heavy rainfall, increasing the productivity of the country’s substantial hydroelectric systems which make up 68% of the Costa Rican energy mix.

While this highlights how Costa Rica’s energy generating capacity can – for better or worse – be subject to unpredictable weather changes, the nation has been investing renewabletechnologies for some time. The relatively small population of less than five million, small manufacturing industry and topography and meteorological conditions make Costa Rica just about perfect for renewable sources of energy. In addition, following the abolition of the military in 1948, the government have used some funds to build capacity in renewables, for which they have received international recognition.

Image: Flickr user Amaynez
Image: Flickr user Amaynez

Adam Epstein points out on Quartz that Costa Rica’s achievement has happened in the context of gains for renewable energy in general. Iceland already utilises geothermal energy to provide all of its electricity and 85% of its energy and Denmark already gets 40% of its energy from wind with a plan to reach 100% energy from renewable sources by 2050.

One factor worth noting in the Costa Rican case is that this only accounts for electricity generation, not energy as a whole, which would include significant fossil fuel inputs for transport and manufacturing.

In the longer-term transition to a circular economy however, increased use of electric vehicles, as well as reuse and remanufacturing activities could lower the overall threshold of energy required to power the economy. This in turn would mean that countries like Costa Rica, with a diverse mix of renewable energy sources, would benefit from greater resilience to price or supply shocks.

Read the original article on Climate Progress



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The Author

Joe Iles

Joe Iles

I'm Editor in Chief of Circulate and Digital Architect at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

When I'm not discussing the circular economy, I also love talking about digital media and online trends, memes, music, bad films and good beer.

You can find me on twitter @joeiles or email joe[at]

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