Category Archives: Sustainable Energy

Costa Rica produces 99% Electricity from renewable sources in 2015


The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said in a statement that it achieved 99 percent renewable electricity generation in 2015, as per AFP reports. Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (English: Costa Rican Institute of Electricity) (ICE) is the Costa Rican government-run electricity and telecommunications services provider. Jointly with the Radiographic Costarricense SA (RACSA) and Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz (CNFL) form the ICE Group. The institute also said for 285 days in 2015 the country managed to power its grid on 100 percent renewable sources.

The path away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy in the small Central American nation is seen as aspirational for other countries wanting to cut fossil-fuel pollution blamed on global warming. Costa Rica is lucky to have a wealth of renewable energy sources to choose from. The bulk of its power generation comes from hydropower thanks to a large river system and heavy tropical rainfalls. The rest is made up of a mix of geothermal energy, which the country is also rich in, wind, biomass and solar power.

In December 2015, the UN Climate Change conference held in Paris (COP21) struck a landmark deal committing countries to cutting their carbon emissions. Whether Costa Rica’s renewable energy model can be implemented in other countries will depend on the topography and climate of the respected countries.

For Costa Rica, the more measurable results of its renewable energy success will be known by in the earlier half of this year (2016) when a full year worth of data will be available to compare with the previous year. By then, the largest hydropower plant in Central America should be in operation.

The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project, located in the eastern province of Limón, is expected to be ready for operation by end of January 2016.The ICE is currently taking measures to protect land along the south, east, and western portions of the future lake, and are reforesting a strip of land around the lake’s perimeter. This is a commendable course of action that we wholeheartedly support, but it will not be sufficient to guarantee the future integrity of this critical biological corridor. The Reventazon Hydroelectric Project aims to set a high standard for large development projects by engaging with the community and taking unprecedented environmental steps, but are they doing enough? Significantly more strategic reforestation will be required to maintain safe migratory access through the corridor.

The citizens of the country have benefited from the cost of energy actually falling by 12% this year and the institute expects it to keep falling in the future. It’s important to remember that Costa Rica is a small nation. It has a total area of about 51,000 square kilometres, which is about half the size of the US state of Kentucky, and it has a population of only 4.8 million people. Furthermore, its primary industries are tourism and agriculture, rather than heavy, more energy-intensive industries such as mining or manufacturing. Costa Rica is an inspiration as the right steps in the right direction.The Central American nation is just one of many nations around the world that is getting behind renewable energy.

Recently, India, the world’s third-largest carbon polluter, unveiled a plan that aims to make its economy more energy-efficient and to cut carbon emissions. In this significant shift, the Indian government said that it also intends to produce about 40 percent of its electricity in 2030 from “non-fossil-fuel based sources” such as solar, wind, and hydropower.

Try this Quiz to check if your opinion is informed by Science of Climate change

Thumbnail image – Arturo Sotillo(Wha’ppen) Flickr via CC

The AK1000™: World’s Largest Marine Turbine

Atlantis Resources Corporation one of the world’s leading developers of Marine Power Systems, unveiled the largest and most powerful tidal power turbine ever built, the AK1000™ on August 11th 2010 at Invergordon, Scotland. The AK1000™ is due for installation at a dedicated berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (“EMEC”), located in Orkney, Scotland later this summer.

The AK1000™ is seventy three feet tall and weighs one hundred and thirty tons. According to the CEO Timothy Cornelius “The turbines turn at six to eight revolutions per minute, so are incredibly slow turning and will have zero impact on the surrounding environment.” Hypothetically therefore the turbine rotors should cause no harm to the marine environment and its residents.

Timothy Cornelius added: “The unveiling and installation of the AK1000™ is an important milestone, not only for Atlantis, but for the marine power industry in the United Kingdom. The AK1000™ is capable of unlocking the economic potential of the marine energy industry in Scotland and will greatly boost Scotland’s renewable generation capacity in the years to come.”

So what is Tidal Current Power?

Tidal current technology is a form of hydropower and harnesses the energy in tides and converts it into usable power.

Tidal current power is different from wave power. Wave power harnesses power of the waves while Tidal Current technology extracts energy from the high tide bulge created by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun moving horizontally around the Earth’s surface.

As per the Atlantis, Sea water, which is 832 times denser than air, gives a 5 knot ocean current more kinetic energy than a 350 km/h wind; therefore ocean currents have a very high energy density. Hence a smaller device is required to harness tidal current energy than to harness wind energy.

Tidal Power and Tidal current power differ in that, Tidal power requires the building of barrages to manage and direct the flow of the current etc… the civil construction cost and impact on the environment is much higher in the tidal power barrage systems.

Tidal Power facts:

  • The first large scale tidal power system the Rance Tidal Power station in Brittany, France, started functioning in 1966! It is still the largest tidal power station based on installed capacity.
  • Tidal power stations were first developed and tested in the 1970’s; they harness the water masses that periodically flow into sea bays and drive conventional hydro turbines when the tide goes out. The disadvantage of this technology is that they require large barrages in the sea.
  • Unless taken to extremes, Tidal Current power system does not require blocking of any waterways, and hence does not have the adverse environmental effects associated with Tidal Barrages.
  • Tidal current energy takes the kinetic energy available in currents and converts it into renewable electricity.
  • As oceans cover over 70% of Earth’s surface, ocean energy (including wave power, tidal current power and ocean thermal energy conversion) represents a vast source of energy, estimated at between 2,000 and 4,000 TWh per year, enough energy to continuously light between 2 and 4 billion 11W low-energy light bulbs.
  • USA and UK could produce 15% of power they need from the Ocean itself.

On the whole the project sounds and looks really good and it has been working in Australia. Will wait to see how it works out in Orkney, Scotland.

If what they say about no impact on the environment proves to be true, this is definitely another way to harness green energy and keep the environment clean simultaneously. Live Green!

Read the Press release from Atlantis HERE

Check out the video of Tidal Turbines in Manhattan:

Links of Interest:

Source of pictures and Info Atlantis Website

Voith Hydro

There is a study going on the effect of tidal power systems in Orkney read the press release here

Suggested reading from Amazon:

Ocean, Tidal, and Wave Energy: Power from the Sea (Energy Revolution)