Which Countries Will Be the First to Fully Implement Renewable Technologies?Author: Kathryn Gaw
In early June, Portugal powered its entire country for four days using only renewable energy, and already this year the UK, Denmark and Germany have broken records for their output of renewable energy in the form of wind power, hydro power and solar power.
Renewable energy is no longer a trend – it is the future. And with more and more countries committing to renewable technologies, the race is on to see who will become the first country to go 100 per cent green.
So which countries are in the running? We’ve put together some odds based on current stats and predictions…
Odds: 10 to 1 (most likely)
Iceland is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to using renewable energy. Between 1940 and 1975, every household in the country was converted from oil to geothermal heating, and today more than 90 per cent of the country is heated using native geothermal energy . More than 72 per cent of Iceland’s electricity is powered by hydro, and there has been a big push towards wind power in recent years.
It is extremely likely that Iceland will be able to boast that it is completely renewable in the not too distant future, but it is in a particularly unique position when it comes to native energy. Its remote, North Atlantic location and rugged landscape means that the island often experiences high winds, while its volcanic core provides it with an endless supply of hot water and heat. Not many countries would be able to replicate this model.
Odds: 4 to 1 (very likely)
Last year, Sweden announced its plans to go ‘Fossil Free’ by investing in renewable sources such as solar power, wind power, smart grids and clean transport. The country already gets more than 50 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, making it the greenest country in the European Union.
The Swedish government hasn’t set a deadline for going Fossil Free, but it has shown it’s serious by challenging the rest of the EU to a race to see who will be the first to go 100 per cent renewable!
Odds: 2 to 1 (quite likely)
In 2015, 99 per cent of Costa Rica’s electricity was powered by renewable energy, prompting the country to announce plans to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2021.
Thanks to heavy tropical rainfall, and a network of fast-flowing rivers, Costa Rica is able to rely on hydropower, as well as solar and wind energy.
Odds: 2 to 1 (quite likely)
Over the past ten years alone, Uruguay seen its renewable energy usage surge to 95 per cent thanks to generous government subsidiaries for renewable businesses and their customers. Even more impressively, this renewable focus has taken place with minimal investment – according to the country’s head of climate change policy Ramon Mendez, it was simply down to “clear decision-making, a supportive regulatory environment and a strong partnership between the public and private sector”.
In 2014, Uruguay was championed by the WWF for its remarkable green credentials, and the rapid growth of its wind power, hydropower and biomass industries have led to an influx of global investment. Renewable energy investments are believed to be worth at least $7 billion, or 15 per cent of the county’s GDP.
Odds: 1 to 3 (on the right track, but unlikely to become the first renewable country)
In 2014, Denmark set a new world record for wind power, with 39.1 per cent of the country’s electricity coming from thin air. The country is on track to exceed its goal of getting half its electricity from renewables by 2020. And by 2050, it wants to be completely reliant on renewable energy. However, this may not be soon enough to see Denmark crowned as the world’s first renewable country.
Odds: 5 to 1 (unlikely, but could surprise…)
Germany’s transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy has been so remarkable that it has been given its own name: the ‘energiewende’ .
In June 2014, more than half of the country’s electricity was being provided by solar panels, and earlier this year almost all of the country’s electricity was provided by renewable energy, sending power prices plummeting . However, these records were set on extraordinarily sunny days or days with unusually high winds, which suggests that the country is still some way away from 100 per cent renewability.
There is no question that Germany has the technology to become a fully renewable country, but it lacks the natural resources of Iceland, Morocco, and Costa Rica. However, Germany’s commitment to green technologies and investment in the renewable energy sector may lead to some major new developments over the next couple of years.
Odds: 6 to 1 (unlikely)
Morocco doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to renewable energy, but this is about to change. Late last year, the world’s largest solar plant was unveiled in Ouarzazarte, with the capacity to provide electricity to one million homes. The King has pledged that renewables such as solar, wind and hydro power will provide at least 42 per cent of the country’s electricity by 2020. While it is unlikely that this will be enough to make Morocco the first to fully implement renewable technologies, it is a huge improvement on its previous energy plan, which saw 98 per cent of its energy coming from fossil fuels.