Monday, April 8, 2019

The Dream of 100% Renewable Energy is Alive and Well

The dream of 100 percent renewable energy is alive and well with many nations proving that it can be done. The transition away from fossil fuels to renewables is underway.  In the last couple of years we have seen some major changes. When we compare the leading renewable energy countries in 2016 to those who are leading today we find that there are several states that have stayed the course while some others have not.

Despite resistance from the Trump administration, renewables are growing n the US. It is not only California and Hawaii, states and territories across America are committing to 100 percent renewable energy. Washington DC, New Mexico, and Puerto Rico are looking to go 100 percent renewable. Local and state legislators in Arizona, Nevada, Missouri, and Colorado have all passed clean-energy bills. In addition to New Mexico five other governors elected in 2018 have said they want their states to become zero-carbon (Colorado and Connecticut) or close to it (Illinois, Nevada,and Maine).

Germany's green energy dominance allows the nation to meet more than one third of  electricity demands with renewables. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been a champion of renewable energy and as part of the nation's Energiewende program the country is committed to eradicating fossil fuel powered energy and generating all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

In places like Portugal renewable energy has at times been able to provide for all the nation's power needs. Last year renewable energy provided all of Portugal's electricity needs in the month of March. It is not only smaller countries that are meeting all of their energy demand with renewables. Both Germany and the UK have at times been able to generate all of their electricity needs from renewables. The UK owes much its renewable energy performance to Scotland, which derives all of its energy from renewables.

Costa Rica is almost entirely powered by renewables. According to figures provided by Costa Rica's National Centre for Energy Control the country gets its energy from hydropower, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar (hydrocarbons are less than one half of one percent). Costa Rica aims to be completely carbon-neutral by the year 2021.

Cost Rica is not the only clean energy leader in Central America, Nicaragua is on track to be 90 percent renewables-powered by the year 2020 and Uruguay already derives 95 percent of its power from renewables

"It really is time to debunk the myth that a country has to choose between development on the one hand and environmental protection, renewables, quality of life, on the other," the founder of renewable energy initiative group Costa Rica Limpia, Monica Araya, said. "[I]t's important to take note of what Costa Rica is doing here – their success can be ours too. We just have to want it badly enough."

In 2017 Sri Lanka announced that it would get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, primarily wind and solar energy. There will be 15,000 MW of wind and 16,000 MW of solar capacity with the rest coming from  hydro and biomass energy. If they succeed the country will save a total of $18 billion that would have been spent on fossil fuels. Sri Lanka is one of 43 members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum who committed to produce 100 percent of their electricity through renewables by 2050 at the Marrakesh COP negotiations.

Denmark aims to be 100 percent of fossil-fuel-free by 2050. Chile is also looking at going 100 percent renewable by 2050. California expects to be fully transitioned to renewables by 2045.

Other countries that are 100 percent renewable include Iceland which generates the most clean electricity per person on earth, with almost 100 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources. In 2015 Sweden announced they were eliminating fossil fuel usage in the country. Scotland is able to produce enough wind power to export electricity..China is the undisputed growth leader in renewable energy while Taiwan is working towards the modest goal of 20 percent renewables by 2025. 

We are also seeing large scale investments in renewable energy from some of the most unlikely places including Saudi Arabia. The oil producing state plans to develop almost 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023, starting with wind and solar plants in its vast northwestern desert.Kenya, Morocco, and even the isolated island state of Tasmania are taking bold steps towards clean energy.

There are a number of energy success stories, but as a whole we are not transitioning fast enough. Although Clean energy is the answer to both air pollution and the climate crisis, many governments are failing to advance the necessary policies.  

The New RE100 Initiative: 1000 Businesses 100% Renewable
Europe is Proving that 100% Renewables is Possible
Moving Towards 100% Renewables in the US
Renewable Energy in Africa and the Middle East
The ABCs of Latin American Renewable Energy (Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica)
Asian Renewable Energy (China, India Japan, South Korea)
Australia Can Go 100% Renewable Due to Falling Costs
Australian State Meets Energy Needs with Renewables
Australia Can Dump Coal and Adopt Renewables
Canada Could Get All of Its Electricity from Renewables
Europe Moving Towards 100 percent Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy Case Studies: Burlington Vermont and Argentina
Germany's Renewable Energy Leadership

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