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Costa Rica: 100% Renewable Electricity for 100 Days, Carbon Neutral by 2021

by gmoke Tue May 19th, 2015 at 06:03:10 PM EST

Costa Rica has provided all of its electricity from renewables, usually a mix of 68 percent hydro, 15 percent geothermal, and 17% mostly diesel and gas, for the first 100 days of 2015.  The Tico Times reports (http://www.ticotimes.net/2015/04/22/costa-ricas-renewable-energy-streak-is-still-going-but-what-does -that-really-mean)

"The clean energy streak is likely to continue. Last Friday [April 17, 2015] ICE (Costa Rica Electricity Institute)  released a report estimating that 97 percent of the country's electricity will be produced from renewables this year. This is good news for Costa Rican residents, who will see their electricity prices drop up to 15 percent starting this month."

In 2016, Costa Rica is a launching a satellite to monitor CO2 across the world tropical belt

"...the first Central American satellite, built in Costa Rica, will be launched into space in 2016.  The satellite will collect and relay daily data on carbon dioxide to evaluate the effects of climate change."

Costa Rica announced in 2009 that it plans to be a carbon neutral country by 2021 and they are following through on that planning.

The Costa Rican goal is zero carbon by 2021 and they intend to get there by following a formula of E - R - C = 0
Emissions minus Reductions minus Compensation (reforestation and other measures) equals Zero.
They estimate they will have
21.6 millions tons of Emissions of CO2e [CO2 equivalent] by 2021
minus 4.1 million tons in planned Reductions through energy efficiency and other programs
minus 17.5 million tons of Compensation through reforestation
to equal Zero.  

These calculations are relatively easy to do for most if not all countries.

Costa Rica is particularly good at compensation through reforestation as they went from 21% forest cover in 1987 to 51% in 2005.  54 countries in the tropical belt, the same area which the 2016 satellite will cover, are studying  the forestry and reforestation practices of Costa Rica.

For all their success with renewable electricity, Costa Rica's largest carbon output comes from the transportation sector and liquid fuels (plus at least 10% of their previous electricity supply).  They plan to use excess run of river hydro and, possibly, geothermal in off-peak hours to generate hydrogen as part of the solution.

Since September 2013, the "Costa Rican Voluntary Domestic Carbon Market" has traded Certified Emissions Reductions from the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism.


In a unique move, Costa Rica launched an environmental bank, aptly named BanCO2! - to broker carbon trades. The bank is setting up an exchange where companies can buy and sell carbon credits. Currently, it costs $5 for a ton of carbon....  

The market is now on the order of a million tons of carbon per year and these funds will be used for projects that capture and sequester carbon like forest protection and reforestation, reduce emissions, and increase energy efficiency.

Costa Rica has proposed a global application of this idea to the world community.

They are not the only Latin American country doing something about their carbon emissions either:
(http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/14719/as-others-balk-latin-america-moves-forward-on-clim ate-change)

Uruguay, a country that lacks fossil fuels but has abundant wind, has invested heavily in wind energy and expects 94 percent of its electricity to be from renewable sources in 2015. Colombia gets 70 percent of its electricity from hydropower, whereas Costa Rica has a goal of using renewable sources--mostly hydro and wind--for all of its electricity needs. Chile, which has South America's most developed economy, is building the region's largest solar plant in the Atacama Desert and has approved the region's first carbon tax, which will take effect in 2018.

More 100% renewable electricity and carbon neutral nations?
. yes 100%
. no 0%
. not yes 0%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 4
Results | Other Polls
by melvin on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 04:09:43 AM EST
Remind me again, how much does Costa Rica spend on military fireworks and costumes?
by melvin on Sat May 23rd, 2015 at 04:14:01 AM EST
Costa Rica disbanded its military back around 1948 or so.  Eminently reasonable people it seems but I bet they still like fireworks and costumes.

Solar IS Civil Defense
by gmoke on Sun May 24th, 2015 at 04:09:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they have local police, so they likely still have some vaguely military looking costumes ... but no army, no navy, and no air force.

Since they have had no army, no navy, no air force (and no heavy weapons, so no "National Police" that is an army in disguise) since shortly after WWII, I would assume they can afford better fireworks displays than the countries of Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras or Guatamala.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue May 26th, 2015 at 08:17:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very hard to quote Harpo unless you have a bicycle horn or a harp always handy.

Solar IS Civil Defense
by gmoke on Tue May 26th, 2015 at 05:36:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More current figures for the generation modes from the article:

Costa Rica's renewable energy streak is still going, but what does that really mean? - The Tico TimesThe Tico Times

Costa Rica now generates around 80 percent of its electricity using hydropower, about 15 percent using geothermal energy and a smaller fraction using wind and solar power.

However, this was dependent on rain patterns. But that is now solved with over-capacity, albeit with large hydro:

Costa Rica's renewable energy streak is still going, but what does that really mean? - The Tico TimesThe Tico Times

The Reventazón hydroelectric plant, located on the river of the same name in the Caribbean community of Siquirres, is scheduled to become operational next year. It will be the largest dam in Central America.

"With that we will be able to generate 100 percent renewable energy," Gutiérrez said. "The issues with droughts are relative to the capacity that you have. This dam is going to be able to generate enough energy for Costa Rica for many years."

As for the compensation schemes, how long will those apply? You can re-forest only so much land. So to keep carbon neutrality on the longer term, you'd have to do more for the de-carbonisation of transport.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 6th, 2015 at 02:58:00 AM EST
Bill McLarney who has been working on ecological issues in Costa Rica for the last few decades wrote me that hydroelectricity in Central America is an under-recognized environmental issue, degrading delicate ecosystems so there are real issues there that have to be confronted.  This year's rain patterns have allowed Costa Rica to become 100% renewably electric for a long time but there's no assurance that the coming years will see the same rainfall patterns.

However, Costa Rica and other Central American and Latin American countries are working together now to chart their own course away from carbon fuels and towards renewables in response to climate change and other issues.  This is something that is not often covered in the American press and probably the European press as well.  Would be good to have more information about what they are doing together that we may all learn from.

The transition from liquid fuels to electricity or hydrogen for vehicles is the next step.  Costa Rica is beginning to think about that seriously from what I gather as are Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Germany, among others, who are already progressing rapidly in building a 100% renewably powered electrical system.  Iceland had plans, before their bank failures, to become the first hydrogen economy but I am told by Icelandic representatives that this development is now on hold.  They are currently moving toward electric vehicles.  I suspect that Costa Rica will follow in that direction as electric vehicle technology is more developed than hydrogen fuel cells.

Replacing liquid fuels is difficult in part because gasoline has such great energy density.  Hydrogen has about half the energy density and there are difficulties in transporting and storing it because it's the smallest atom of all the elements (among other things).

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Mon Jun 8th, 2015 at 03:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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