Costa Rica is the regional leader of clean energy, thanks to a plan that takes advantage of natural resources and climate change.

During the first 75 days of the year, Costa Rica set the bar for world clean energy production. In fact, Costa Rica’s electricity generation facilities have had no negative environmental impact during 2015. This is due in part to the annual rains, as well as the renewable energy efforts created in the Central American country. According to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the country has not needed to use any hydrocarbons to feed the electrical network. There has been enough water in the reservoirs of Arenal, Cachí, La Angostura and Pirrís, combined with the production of geothermal, wind, solar and biomass energy, to support the country’s needs.

Clean Energy

Costa Rica anticipates its energy matrix to be completely “green” by the year 2021. Currently, only about half of its primary energy sources are renewable. This year, the renewable sources have been sufficient. One of the keys to the success of Costa Rica’s renewable energy initiatives has been its integration into the Programa De Energías Renovables y Eficiencia Energética de Centroamérica (4E), a program implemented with joint support of Germany and the Secretary General of the Central American Integration System, working together to create a clean energy matrix in the region.

Manfred Haebig, regional director of the 4E program, stated that Costa Rica has always had the greenest electrical matrix of Central America. Among the green initiatives, hydroelectricity accounts for 80% of energy generation, while wind and geothermal production account for 20%. The drawback to this setup is that it relies heavily on the climate. If there isn’t enough rain, the scarcity of water becomes an issue.

Haebig explains:

[quote_center]”Today, the reservoirs are full, and we talk of 100% renewable energy. But this is dynamic and can change with time.” [/quote_center]

Costa Rica’s Clean Energy Mechanisms

Costa Rica has two primary mechanisms to grow its renewable energy projects: technology auctions that directly allow it to increase its production capacity and a buy-back program that allows consumers to sell excess energy back to the energy infrastructure.

Between 2006 and 2013, Costa Rica attracted more than $1.7 billion to finance renewable energy projects. In 2013 alone, a record $600 million was allocated to renewable energy. Of this amount 40% was allocated to non-hydroelectric production.

The World Economic Forum places Costa Rica in ninth place worldwide for renewable energy initiatives.

[quote_center]”Costa Rica has established itself as a world leader in renewable energy, with considerable investment in the development and expansion of its renewable energy capacity, in particular wind.”[/quote_center]

Renewable Energy Benefits

According to the World Health Organization, 7 million deaths were attributed to contaminants in the air in 2012. According to Jake Richardson, renewable energy expert for Clean Technica:

[quote_center]”Switching to clean, renewable energy can help the world reduce damaging contamination”[/quote_center]

“Additionally, tourism contributes a great deal to the economy of Costa Rica due to its abundant beauty so it makes a lot of sense to reach out to clean energy sources and not to the contaminants,” he added.

For example, the U.S. imported $300 billion in petroleum in 2013, representing two-thirds of the foreign commercial deficit of the country. To prevent this from occurring in the country, Costa Rica has wagered heavily on its use of hydro, wind and other renewable resources. This translates into a savings for the country and the people. In fact, the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Publicos (ARESEP) calculates a reduction of up to 15% in the electricity rates of consumers.

For more information on clean energy, please contact Daniel Yepez at [email protected] or find him on LinkedIn.

Read original article in Spanish on La Nacion.