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Costa Rica Uses Only Renewable Energy for the First 75 Days of 2015 in a Cost-Cutting Initiative

For the first 75 days of 2015, Costa Rica's 2.8 million citizens not only powered their homes and businesses with solely renewable energy sources, but cut costs as well.

As part of a nationwide clean energy campaign, Costa Rica challenged itself to run the entire country by using natural energy sources such as water, sunlight and wind.

Backed by the country's inhabitants, government agencies only stopped when resources diminished to the point that it was hurting the economy. Without any domestic oil or natural gas sources, importing such fuel supplies is costly, but necessary at the present time to keep up with import and export demands.

Extensive rainfall for the start of the new year was a key factor to the longevity of the experiment.

Costa Rica relied on four main reservoirs in Arenal, Cachí, La Angostura and Pirrís, where all water levels were above the expected amount. Hydroelectric plants accounted for 72 percent of the energy production.

Geothermal, wind, biomass and solar production accounted for the rest of the energy production.

Gilberto De la Cruz, planning director of electrical development for the state-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute, said becoming more self-sustained by reducing external dependency on imported energy sources has been a longtime focus for the group and the Costa Rican people.

"We stimulate the conversation and the people support the focus," he said. "The national policy is focused on using the maximum of renewable sources available."

As costs to the average consumer dropped due to the initiative, garnering support for the ecological movement was an easier task.

The timetable for when the country will no longer depend on oil is unclear, but with plans to increase the number of renewable source plants, the country strives for the near future.

"We tried to find a [diverse] matrix of sources that can be strong and less vulnerable to the changes in the climate," De la Cruz said.

Solar and hydroelectric energy prove bountiful at any time of the year, but a wetter season will yield stronger power as was the case for the kick off of 2015.


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