The small Caribbean nation of Costa Rica managed to power itself without burning any fossil fuels for a period of two months between June and August.
In addition to this impressive environmental feat, Costa Rica has produced over 150 days of totally renewable-produced energy in 2016 according to ABC News. This is in addition to pulling off such a feat for 300 days in 2015.
This green accomplishment came not from developing wind or solar technologies, but from dams and geothermal energy. As Costa Rica is filled with bodies of water, that has enabled it to build four major dams which provide most of the country’s electricity. Heavy rainfall both in 2015 and 2016 enabled the dams to run above capacity, in contrast to a 2014 drought which forced Costa Rica to rely more on fossil fuel generators.
While green advocates will point to Costa Rica’s success as a sign that larger countries can do more to rely on green energy, there are differences between those major countries and Costa Rica. In addition to Costa Rica’s unique abundance of water spots to build dams, the United States consumes 373 times more electricity than Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s lack of energy consumption is partly due to the fact that the country relies on industries which consume less resources, such as agriculture and a booming eco-tourism industry.
But despite these difficulties, larger countries and Costa Rica are still working to promote the further spread of green energy. Costa Rica has nearly completed the Reventazn dam, which will be the largest dam in Central America and is expected to supply up to 296 MW. Mashable reports that the dam will be online this month. Building the new dam will be just one step in Costa Ricas plan to be a carbon neutral country by 2021 and the nation has already seen the benefits with a boom in its real estate market.
Meanwhile in the United States, the Obama administration announced a strategy which would heavily expand offshore wind projects. A report by the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior claims that 2,058 gigawatts of offshore wind resource capacity could be accessed with given technology and that wind power would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption.