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I just returned home from a 12-day research trip to Costa Rica and all I can say is WOW!
Did you know that Costa Rica gets 90% of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and biomass? Neither did I. To add to that, costa Rica's President has announced a goal to have the entire country carbon neutral by the year 2021.
As part of this research project, a team of individuals, primarily from Stony Brook University, go the opportunity to tour the wind farms, geothermal and hydro plants, as well as the biomass facilities that process sugar cain and burn the fibrous remains to generate electricity.
In addition to the facility tours, we had the opportunity to install rainwater capture systems in three homes. This was done at absolutely no cost to the homeowners.
Probably the most amazing part of the project was visiting with a gentleman who constructed his own home that is COMPLETELY OFF THE GRID. All of his electricity comes from a combination of wind and solar, while his water comes from local springs. When he turns on every light in his house, a whopping 97 Watts of electricity is consumed. How cool is that?
The hotel that we were staying at has pigs that are fed the waste from the restaurant. The waste from the pigs is captured in bio-bags, that captures the methane from the pig poo. The natural gas is then sent back to the kitchen for cooking. How about that? Free gas.
Overall, it was an absolutely amazing experience and provided a lot of food for thought.