There are many who like to pretend that renewables don’t exist. Unfortunately for them, they do exist in many forms like hydrogen, wind, and solar. Fortunately for us, there are a few success stories that we can learn from like Sweden, Bulgaria, Estonia, Denmark, and Costa Rica. Sweden, Bulgaria, and Estonia have reached their renewable energy or “green energy” targets set for 2020. For those of us who live in the Caribbean and South American region, I believe the Costa Rica case to be the most relatable. There is much we can learn from them.
THE COSTA RICA CASE
Costa Rica has achieved an extraordinary milestone in the history of green energy. Only with renewable energies, this country has been operating for more than 6 months. The heavy rains in the region have allowed the country to completely renounce fossil fuels, and to feed almost entirely on the electricity generated from four hydroelectric plants, with a little extra help from geothermal, solar green energy and wind projects. With a little more investment, this trend can be maintained over time.
Costa Rica exceeded in 2018, for the 4th consecutive year, 98% of its electricity production with clean sources, informed the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE). The data of the entity released on Thursday indicate that the country has generated 98.56% of its electricity in 2018 from clean sources, which translates into a total of 300 days without using hydrocarbon-based generation plants.
In 2015, this country reached 98.9% of clean production; 98.21% in 2016; and 99.67% in 2017. In 2018, hydroelectric plants have generated 73.87% of Costa Rica’s electricity, followed by wind (15.60%), geothermal (8.38%), biomass (0.63%), and solar (0.08%).
It’s a complete contrast to other Western countries who are “committing” to reach 20%, and have more resources than Costa Rica. I guess we should be happy that there is “some” commitment but clearly that we can do better and are not able to or not willing to because of “fossil fuel commitments”.
It is expected that Costa Rica to be completely Carbon Neutral by the year 2021. It is an extraordinary effort for a small nation to prove that change is possible when you have a true commitment to move forward.
RENEWABLES: SOMETHING NEW?
The concept of Renewable Energy is not new. Wind turbines have been the most popular for many years and are often confused with windmills. They are not the same. The popularity of Solar Panels has also increased. The technology for both energy sources has been extensively researched and tested which gives us now the era of solid products that meet expectations and are ready for use.
It is proven that both wind and solar energy can be produced offering us an option to use clean energy, an energy source that doesn’t harm the environment. But unfortunately, clean energy is not “good” for the fossil fuel industry. In this regard, there have been many setbacks to stopping the popularity and use of clean energy. One clear example is the tax on solar panels which makes it more expensive for households to own solar panels.
Hydro energy is still under research but the concept of using this technology to create or generate electricity is not new. Many countries have been producing electricity through rivers for example. Because of the state, we are in due to pollution people are thinking of new alternatives to using hydro energy like public transportation and air-conditioning using rainwater. The problem with some hydro projects is that it is not ideal to use them on a global scale. Only countries that experience constant rain and therefore have an abundance of water that would otherwise go to waste can better use this technology to note waste the rainwater. There are countries like Africa where clean water is scarce. It is impossible to ask those countries to use hydro energy, instead of using solar would be more beneficial.
There are many alternatives to replace traditional fossil fuel energy production. it’s up to the people to decide what they want but the way is not easy. In principle and in a perfect world the government is there to represent and advocate for the people’s interests. Whether they are actually carrying out the mandates of the people is another discussion point.
If people wake up and realize the power they have when they vote and the importance of knowing who they are voting for it will make a difference. You have the right to ask your government representative to make changes in the best interest of your community but you can also start by taking action working with organizations that offer renewable solutions and or create such organizations yourself that offer alternatives to sustain the renewable energy industry.
Renewable Energy, Clean Energy, or Green Energy can be produced and it works just as well as fossil fuel energy. Just imagine when all the fossil fuel energy will be replaced by hydro, solar, wind energy, or any other type of renewable energy. By then the energy on the main grid becomes clean. At the same time, all homes and businesses could have solar panels and can store energy on location, the remaining energy generated is sold to the grid making it profitable for the owner of the solar panels. When a blackout happens, the consumer wouldn’t even notice because the backup storage would automatically kick in. Isn’t that great?
A case study that could help many countries is the example of Costa Rica which has transformed its utility production proving that “significant” change is possible. We just need committed people who actually intend to get the job done in the right government positions. They won’t get there if we continue the vote for the same people that love the “status quo”.
The time for discussion is over, now it’s time for action!
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi