While we’re doing pretty well down under on the renewable energy front, we’re still playing catch up with the global leaders, who are putting themselves on the map in the way that they consume and use energy. A number of countries are making bold changes to their energy production mix and significantly reducing their environmental footprints, and this is how they’re getting on with it.
While many tourists flock to the Nordic country to visit the famous Blue Lagoon, many don’t realise that while they’re soaking in the geothermal spa, the country is running off 100 per cent renewable energy. To break that down even further, 75 per cent of Iceland’s energy comes from hydropower and 25 per cent comes from geothermal. The country has traded its old coal out and is instead focusing on creating a clean energy future free of fossil fuels.
We may thank Sweden for all the wonder that is ABBA, Rekorderlig Cider and saunas, but we can now also add its renewable energy efforts to that list. Sweden has powered ahead of the pack, reaching its 50 per cent renewable energy goal in 2012, several years ahead of its 2020 target. However, that’s not enough for Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who has raised the bar even higher by challenging the nation – and all others – to source 100 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2040.
The country that is most well-known for the world’s finest coffee beans has now got another claim to fame. Costa Rica has been powered with clean energy for almost an entire year. Its energy mix comes from five different renewable sources – hydropower, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar – and the country aims to be entirely carbon neutral by 2021.
Lakes, volcanoes, fierce wind and tropical sunshine combine to make Nicaragua a renewable energy haven. The Central American nation has become a clean energy powerhouse after closely following the renewable energy policy of its neighbour Guatemala. Nicaragua has set a 90 per cent renewable target by 2020, which isn’t too far out of reach given the country’s strong investment in geothermal, wind and solar power.
Scotland has come a long way from its clan living, kilt wearing and haggis eating days to become home to the world’s largest floating wind farm. Coming in at 30 MW and generating its full capacity 45-60 per cent of the time, the wind farm has contributed to Scotland sourcing two-thirds of its electricity from renewables in 2017, a 26 per cent increase on the previous year.
The birth country of Albert Einstein is also a global leader when it comes to renewable energy. Germany’s future is looking bright thanks to a combined energy mix of wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power, which hit an output record of 104 billion kWh between January and June this year. This meant that the country produced enough renewable energy to power every house across the nation for an entire year.
Naturally, a country that is famous for cycling (everywhere) is also known for its renewable energy efforts. While taking a stroll through Tivoli Gardens in the country’s capital, Copenhagen, you may notice that the air smells a little sweeter in the coming years, with the country planning to use wind power to make it 100 per cent fossil fuel free by 2050. In 2014, Denmark already broke a world record, producing almost 40 per cent of its overall electricity needs from wind power, and recent figures show that the country is on track to achieve its 2050 goal.
The birthplace of the tango and the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex civil unions, Uruguay is seen as one of the most progressive countries in South America. Couple that with beautiful beaches and food and wine culture to rival some of the best in Europe, and it’s no surprise that it is also making real progress when it comes to renewables. Wind and solar provided a record 44 per cent of Uruguay’s electricity in January 2018. It has also become an example to other countries of what is possible with a strong cross-border interconnection and a flexible grid.
A land full of colour, light, exotic spices and a desert with an abundance of sunshine, Morocco has invested heavily in solar power to boost its renewable energy generation. The country has invested US$9 billion in one of the most ambitious solar energy plans in the world. With the country getting 34 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources at the end of 2017, Morocco is well on its way to achieving its goal of 42-52 per cent renewable energy by 2030.