Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Costa Rica

While Costa Rica transitions to renewable energy sources, the U.S. is still relying on coal and natural gas to supply most of its electricity. (Photo: Arturo Sotillo/flickr/cc)

Costa Rica Has Been Running on 100 Percent Renewable Energy for Months

Costa Rica's electrical grid has relied solely on renewable energy sources for 76 days straight, aiming for an all-renewable future

Nika Knight

Costa Rica's electrical grid ran on 100 percent renewable energy between June 17 and September 2, according to a report published Tuesday by the state-owned energy company, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), which controls energy production and distribution. (Data after September 2 has not yet been released.)

"We are a small country with large goals!" ICE wrote on Facebook, alongside a video about Costa Rica's plans to become "the first carbon-neutral country" by 2021.

The small central American nation has relied solely on renewable energy sources for a total of 150 days so far this year, and aims to eventually use 100 percent renewable energy sources at all times.

However, a full 80 percent of Costa Rica's renewable energy generation comes from hydropower, which is certainly "not without its faults," as Ecowatch observes:

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.

Of the rest of the country's electricity generation, about 12 percent comes from geothermal sources and seven percent from wind turbines, the report says. Solar power supplied only 0.01 percent of the country's electricity needs.

"Costa Rica's stretch of fossil fuel-free days this year follows its even cleaner results from 2015," Mashable notes. "Last year, Costa Rica logged 299 total days without burning oil, coal, or natural gas for a single megawatt of electricity."

Mashable observes that the Central American "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."

By contrast, the United States generated about 4 million gigawatt-hours of electricity that same year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and burning fossil fuels comprised the lion's share of that electricity generation.

About 33 percent of electricity in the U.S. came from burning coal, 33 percent from burning natural gas, and 20 percent from nuclear power. A scant 13 percent came from hydropower and other renewable sources.

Sweden, Portugal, and Denmark have also recently had great success with transitioning their electric grids to mostly rely on renewable sources, as the Independent reports.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Make a Gesture of Humanity': Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

"There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated."

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·


US to Offer 'Condolence Payments' to Relatives of 10 Civilians Killed in Drone Strike

The Pentagon statement follows a call for President Joe Biden to "show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations."

Andrea Germanos ·


New Filing Reveals Sinema Pads Campaign Coffers With More Pharma and Finance Funds

"This is what someone who's bought and paid for looks like."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo