There is a real possibility that renewable energy could become the main power source for countries that are currently responsible for 99% of the world’s global carbon emissions. In fact, the world will be powered mainly by renewable energy by 2040. But making this future a reality would take a massive effort propelled by societal and political will.
Some countries already have begun the shift to clean, renewable energy. Read more to find out which countries are out front in the renewable energy arena.
Iceland leads pack with almost 100% renewable energy
Iceland has taken advantage of its renewable natural resources to generate almost 100% of its energy. The country generates the largest amount of clean energy per person than any other country. It not only generates most of its energy from hydroelectric and geothermal power plants, but the geothermal plant at Blue Lagoon has become a tourist draw, promoting the country’s energy efficiency and independence.
For Iceland, switching to renewable energy came early. With its dependence on fossil fuels creating havoc on Iceland’s economy, the country developed a strategy to wean itself from imported fossil fuels and use its renewable resources.
Sweden ups ante with vow to be first 100% fossil fuel-free nation
Sweden, no slacker when it comes to environmental credentials, upped the ante when it ambitiously announced a goal of eliminating its use of fossil fuels completely. Then it challenged the rest of the world to try and beat it.
With an abundant supply of moving water and biomass, hydropower and bioenergy are Sweden’s main renewable energy sources. The country has increased investment in wind, solar, energy storage, smart grids and clean transport. However, it is Sweden’s investment in wind energy that has put it on track to meet its 2030 goal of 50% renewable energy usage early, and positioned it to easily meet 100% of its goal by 2040.
U.S. solar employment outnumbers coal and nuclear combined
In 2018, a new solar panel system was installed every 100 seconds in the U.S., earning the country fourth place in world solar PV installations, per 2016 data. In addition, America has the second most installed wind energy capacity, second only to China.
Solar installations in the U.S. have continued to grow, sparked partly by the 30% investment tax credit available through the end of 2019. Overall, solar jobs have grown by 159% since 2010, adding nearly 150,000 jobs in that span.
Costa Rica achieved 95% renewable electricity
The country may be small, but Costa Rica’s unique geography has made it a player in the race to energy independence. Its 67 volcanoes allow the country to get a large portion of the energy it requires from geothermal. It also gets energy from hydroelectric, wind, and solar investments.
The country’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2021, and it is well on its way to achieving this goal. For several years now, Costa Rica has run entirely on renewable energy for an average of 300 days per year.
Nicaragua pledges 90% renewables by 2020
Like Costa Rica, Nicaragua has volcanoes that make geothermal energy production viable. The government also has invested in solar and wind, making its ambitious goal of becoming 90% renewables-powered by 2020 an achievable goal. As a non-oil producing country, Nicaragua had been dependent on foreign oil to meet its energy needs.
Germany doesn’t let clouds darken its solar future
When you think of solar energy, you probably don’t think of cloudy Germany as a front-runner. However, as a world leader in its commitment to renewable energy, Germany produced enough energy from renewable sources in six months to supply electricity to the country’s households for a year. Even though Germany is a cloudy country, it has set its target at an ambitious 65% of power generated from renewables, including solar, by 2030.
Uruguay makes dramatic shift to 95% renewable energy
After almost 10 years of effort, Uruguay has reached an impressive goal with 95% of its energy coming from renewable sources. This is remarkable since as recently as 2012 the country generated a scant 40% of its energy from renewables. Thanks to a robust private-public sector partnership and a supportive regulatory environment, the country invested in solar and wind power without increasing consumer costs or subsidizing the industry.
All of these initiatives require buy-in and effort comparable to constructing the interstate highway, the Tunnel between France and England, or sending a man to the moon. But the goal is within sight and possible with existing technology. We, as a society, just need to decide that this is the path we want to follow.