Countries Leading the Way in the Shift to Renewable Energy
Solutions for harvesting and distributing renewable energy sources are no longer reserved for a theoretical future. While the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources is certainly still in its infancy, many countries are already forging ahead towards a greener future. From solar to wind, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every country – but with ambitious goals and investments in the infrastructure needed to meet them, there is growth in the sector and the transition is accelerating quickly.
The Climate Reality Project, an organization committed to expanding renewable energy and reducing emissions, offers a list of countries leading the world in the shift to renewable energy sources:
In 2015, Sweden set the new standard for transitioning to renewable energy: eliminating fossil fuel use within its borders altogether, as well as increasing investment in solar, wind, energy storage, smart grids, and clean transport. Then they issued a challenge to the rest of the world’s governments – to race them to become the world’s first 100 percent renewable country.
You may not think of the small island as a leader in renewable energy, but thanks to their unique geography, tropical climate, and commitment to environmental preservation, 99 percent of the country’s electrical needs were met by using hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind, and other low-carbon sources. In fact, they plan to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2021.
54 percent of Nicaragua’s electrical production was made up of renewable sources in 2015, with the majority coming from wind, solar, and geothermal sources. They’ve achieved this by investing in developing renewable energy, injecting a large percentage of its GDP into the effort (the fifth highest percentage of GDP to be used for this purpose worldwide) . The country plans to continue until at least 90 percent of its energy needs are met by renewable sources by 2020.
Germany has “set the trend” by leading the world in Solar Photovoltaics capacity, meeting upwards of 78 percent of its electricity demands from renewable sources. According to ThinkProgress.org, renewable energy sources accounted for nearly 30 percent of the country’s consumption of power in 2014 (that number was just 6.2 percent 14 years earlier). A mild 2014 winter, in combination with the expansion of renewable sources, brought Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions down 4.3 percent. Analysts at Agora Energiewende say that those emissions are now at their lowest since 1990.
The United States
A new solar energy system was installed somewhere in the United States every two minutes and 30 seconds in 2014, placing the country fifth in the world for solar PV capacity. The United States is also second in the world for installed wind energy capacity, though the demand for energy in the United States far exceeds the supply from renewable sources, as they only account for about 13 percent of the country’s electricity generation. Fortunately, a recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that the United States could reduce emissions by almost 80 percent in 15 years with minimal impact on consumer electric costs.
New England College
New England College’s Master of Science in Management’s sustainability concentration gives students a deeper understanding of sustainability in the global economy. The innovative program critically explores the roles and responsibilities of corporations in sustainable business practices, environmental law, natural resource management, and sources of renewable energy and educates the leaders of tomorrow in the fight for a greener future. New England College’s comprehensive and collaborative program is delivered online, giving students the accessibility and flexibility to pursue the degree in their busy schedules.