Renewable energy sources are the future of this planet on the brink of catastrophe. Renewable energy sources, as we know them, are clean and inexhaustible sources of energy. They do not produce greenhouse gases, and therefore are regarded as the best alternatives to fossil fuel energies. The warmest years on the record have been 2016, 2019 and 2020. Clean energy development is crucial in combating global warming. This was given priority during the Paris Climate Accords 2015. Today, the international treaty has been signed by 193 countries. The Paris Agreement was a binding global objective, in which the countries signed to pledge that they’ll reduce the carbon emissions and keep the global temperature below 2C, and preferably well below 1.5C.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), there needs to be a double share in the electricity produced by renewable energy sources, up to 57%, to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2030. There are multiple debates and justifications which come up hovering around the feasibility of producing electricity through renewable energy sources. To many people, it is an unattainable feat.
However, several countries have proved this wrong. These countries have been producing 100% of their electricity from renewable sources of energy. Other countries are running on 90% of green and clean energy, if not entirely on 100%, and which too is an important step the countries have taken. These countries can be studied as the targets and examples the other countries can follow.
Here are the countries majorly running on clean and green electricity and energy:
Iceland obtains 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. 75% of the energy is obtained from hydropower and the remaining 25% comes from geothermal energy. The geological location of Iceland has come to be a great advantage for them. Volcanic activities are quite common in Iceland, which becomes an excellent source of energy. The shift from fossil fuels to geothermal isn’t a recent one. It was taken into consideration in the 1970s, and climate change wasn’t the objective behind this shift.
Iceland’s economy was frail, and it couldn’t sustain the fluctuating prices of oil. The world energy market during this time was in a crisis. Iceland wanted to foster for itself a stable and assured domestic energy source. What emerged was a country running itself completely on renewable energy sources. This challenge was taken by the local entrepreneurs, who understood the unused potential in the abundant supply around them.
2. Costa Rica
Since 2014, Costa Rica has been running on 99% of renewable energy sources. 67.5% of this energy comes from hydropower. 17% of this comes from wind energy, 13.5% from geothermal, and both solar power and biomass constitute 0.84% of this energy. Costa Rica has an abundant supply of free flowing water, which has been harnessed to produce clean energy. 100% of the homes, both urban and rural centres, receive electricity produced from hydro energy.
In fact, the country also holds respective records on this. They hold the title of running on clean energy for the most consecutive days in 2017. In 2015 also, they had set a record for using only clean and pure energy for 299 consecutive days. Costa Rica has been producing surplus clean energy, which it sells to Central America’s Regional Electricity Market.
Paraguay is a landlocked country. It doesn’t have many resources, however, the abundant hydropower has been successfully harnessed by the country. 3 hydropower plants, Itaipú hydropower plant, Yacyretá and Acaray plants, produce the majority of the energy for the country. The surplus of this clean energy is exported to Argentina and Brazil. The hydropower plant system is still in development in Paraguay as the country aims to increase the power generation to meet its electricity requirements.
As of 2020, Kenya had been running on 87% of energy from renewable resources. Kenya’s president is aiming for taking this to 100%. The country has heavily invested in geothermal energy sources. Moreover, 9 million households are supplied with off-grid renewable energy.
Nicaragua has a mix of renewable energy sources through which they produce clean and green electricity. The largest contributor to this is the 33.2% sugar cane based biofuel, geothermal energy with 24.6%, followed by 22.5% wind power, solar with 0.5% and hydro with 0.26%. Since 2012, the country has been investing the highest percentage of its GDP towards the development of renewable electricity. In 2020, the renewable energy supply had touched 75.2%. This is a huge increment, as compared to 60% in 2019.
Uruguay has plenty of sun, wind and water, which have been harnessed to produce renewable electricity. Almost 100% of Uruguay’s electricity comes from renewable resources. It is for this reason that Uruguay is called Latin America’s Renewable Champion. The country is less dependent on fossil fuel imports now. Farms and schools are supplied with clean energy. The country is aiming to be energy independent and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. The diverse electricity is also making the country resilient to climate change.
The Earth receives 23000 TW of solar energy, but the global consumption currently is only 16 TW. The planet has an abundant, replenishable, and clean energy supply which can be harnessed to replace fossil fuels currently. Studies have also indicated that if the planet works towards investing in renewable energy sources, then by 2050, we can stop our dependence on fossil fuels.
Currently, only 29% of the world’s total electricity is powered by renewables. Amidst the debates around the feasibility of renewable energy, Mark Jacobson, director of the atmosphere/energy program and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, said, “We have lost too much time in our efforts to address global warming and the seven million air pollution deaths that occur each year, by not focusing enough on useful solutions”. According to him, investment in renewable energy will not only save the planet, but will also create millions of new job opportunities, especially for the lower classes.
Stanford University researchers have also produced a new study which shows that 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 is possible. They’ve also plotted roadmaps for 139 nations, as to how they can transition to clean energy. The global energy system needs to be redesigned, in which solar and wind energy will be the foundational pillars of supply. This transition requires the political and economical will on the part of the individual countries.