Plans to be carbon neutral in 6 yearsAccording to the latest data, renewable energy represents only 15% of installed capacity in the US. It's growing fast and represents most of the new capacity being added to the grid, but we're still some time away from a truly clean power grid (which is why you should do your part by signing up for Green Power or by putting solar panels on your roof).
While the U.S. is like a supertanker ship that can only change course very slowly, Costa Rica is a much nimbler vessel, and it has been taking advantage of that to make bolder moves. The country has already set itself the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021, and it has crossed an important milestone in 2015: 75 consecutive days without using fossil fuels to generate electricity, according to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). It could be more than 75 days now, but that's the latest data available.
“We don’t want this be a 75-day story, we want this to be a 365-day story,” said Monica Araya, executive director of Nivela, a Costa Rica-based climate change think tank. “We need to have a conversation about how to go beyond hydro, and not just about clean electricity, but clean energy.” The challenge will of course be to make the switch with for things that don't run on electricity, such as a big part of the transportation sector. But it can be done!
Clean energy side effect: Prices are fallingCosta Rica was already doing well, with 80% of its electricity generated from renewables last year, but this year heavy rains have helped its 4 main hydropower stations produce even more, which was enough to reach 100% with the help of geothermal stations. In fact, the country is planning to add even more geothermal capacity to make sure that it isn't too dependent on hydro.
Another side effect of running 100% on renewables so far this year: Rates for citizens have fallen by 12%, and the ICE expects them to keep falling for the near future.