5 Countries Leading the Way in Renewable Energy
October 22, 2014.
As climate change continues to intensify worldwide, we are constantly reminded of the negative toll it is taking on ecosystems, economies and human health. However, positive progress is being made, and new trends in renewables are reducing dependence on fossil fuels. We’ve compiled a list of 5 countries taking the lead in renewable energy production.
- Denmark: This northern European country is making huge strides in renewable energy, specifically in wind power. Currently, renewable energy accounts for about 25% of Denmark’s total energy consumption, and it aims to produce 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. With about 4,500 miles of coastline, the conditions for wind power in Denmark are better than almost anywhere in Europe. Offshore wind farms in Danish waters have produced substantial amounts of electricity, and Denmark plans to use biomass, supplemented by energy savings and efficiency to meet its energy demands.
- Germany: Just south of Denmark, Germany recently achieved significant renewable energy milestones and set a high bar for the rest of the European Union. In the first half of 2014, Germany generated 31% of its energy from renewable sources, comprised mostly of hydropower, solar, and wind. Though the U.S. produces far more renewable energy than Germany, it falls short in percentage usage and growth. Germany has drastically reduced its dependence on natural gas, by as much as 25% last year, and its policies towards renewables and away from nuclear, coal and gas inspire optimism for the continued growth in renewable sources of energy.
- China: Although China often evokes images of smog and huge coal-fired plants, it is still a major player in the clean energy race. Solar energy deployment increased fourfold in 2013 to an unprecedented 12.1 GW and for the fourth year in a row, it produced more than 10 GW of wind power. In total, China installed more than 35 GW of clean generating capacity in 2013 and it continues to lead in renewable energy investment: it led the wind category with $28 billion and was second in the solar sector with $22.6 billion. China is a critical phase right now because it previously oriented its energy focus on exports, it is now concentrating on greater domestic consumption. By generating more electricity through solar and wind power, it can help reduce dependence on coal and gas, especially since it is the largest consumer and producer of coal worldwide.
- United States: Though much attention is placed on the shale natural gas revolution, the U.S. is the second largest producer of renewable-generated electricity. Currently, U.S. power plants use renewable energy sources to generate 13% of total electricity, mostly coming from hydropower. domain maps Wind power accounts for 32% of renewables in the U.S., while solar energy only accounts for 2% of its renewable energy mix. The United States produces the most electricity worldwide from non-hydroelectric renewable sources and continues to make strides in wind power, though solar has not shown as much growth due to its cost and state and federal policies.
- Spain: Our last renewable energy leader is Spain. Spain increased its solar energy capacity considerably over the past 7 years, up to 1,950 MW from 11 MW in 2007. Its renewable energy output doubled between 2006 and 2013, giving it the fourth-largest renewable energy industry at that point. Unfortunately, the government had to make large cuts to the renewable energy sector because it failed to cut subsidies when the industry was booming, but Spain is trying to incentivize investment in solar energy to increase its electricity production through renewable energy, not coal and gas.