For the second year in a row, Costa Rica has proven it can attain 100% of its energy needs from renewable sources for more than two months at a time. This time, the country has been running on 100% clean energy for the past 76 days (starting on June 17).
Along with the latest renewable energy run, the Central American nation of about 4.6 million people ran on clean energy during parts of January, February and March, according according to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).
Through August, wind power generation suffered a 42% drop compared to July - the second consecutive month it saw a drop. The declines in wind power were made up by hydroelectric power from dams.
Costa Rica's energy matrix is highly dependent on hydropower generation: 66% of energy in the past quarter came from hydroelectric power plants like this one in Cachí, Cartago.
Along with hydroelectric power, Costa Rica gets 12.6% of its power from geothermal-powered steam generators; 7% from wind turbines; and .01% from solar. The nation gets no power from biomass generation.
By comparison, the U.S. gets about 13% of its power from renewable sources, mainly hydroelectric, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Last year, Costa Rica was also able to run for 75 consecutive days on renewable energy sources.
Costa Rica has bolstered its renewable resource as part of a 2009 plan to eliminate carbon emissions by 2021; that plan included new hydroelectric power plants, wind farms and a $958 million project to build three geothermal energy plants.
In August, 80% of Costa Rica's power came from hydroelectric power plants, ICE said.
Carlos Manuel Obregon, chief executive of ICE, said most of the nation's hydroelectric power has come from dams on the Reventazón River. Currently, two dams provide the power, but a third -- the Reventazón Dam -- will go online Sept. 16, as the largest power project in Central America with 305.5 megawatts of new energy.
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