Renewable energy is energy that is collected from resources that do not deplete and are naturally replenished on a human timescale (are renewable). The seven types of renewable energy are solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, ocean, hydrogen, and biomass. Hydroelectric energy is the largest of these, followed by wind and solar power.
Renewable energy is booming. Renewable energy creates new jobs in a growing industry and promises clean energy to help preserve the Earth. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, transportation, rural energy services, and air and water heating/cooling.
Thirty nations around the world use renewable energy contributing more than 20% of energy supply. There are several places around the world with grids that are run almost exclusively on renewable energy. Iceland and Norway generate all of their electricity using renewable energy resources. At least 47 other nations generate over 50% of their electricity from renewable resources. Renewable energy technologies are often suited for rural or remote areas and developing countries, where energy deployment is applied in conjunction with further overall electrification.
Renewable energy industries are expected to grow over the coming decades, bringing with them energy security, economic benefits, and climate change mitigation. Systems are becoming more efficient and inexpensive while their share of total energy consumption is increasing. In 2019, more than two-thirds of all electricity capacity installed was renewable. It is predicted that by the end of 2020, the increase in consumption of oil and coal could end due to the increase in the use of renewable energy and natural gas.
While many countries around the world are shifting towards renewable energy resources, some countries are leading the way.
The first of these is Sweden, which has set its goal to eliminate fossil fuels from electricity generation entirely by the year 2040. While Sweden is increasing its use of solar, wind, smart grids, and clean transport, the country is also challenging other countries to beat them to their goal in order to encourage the rapid adoption of cleaner renewable energy.
Scotland is in the process of building the world’s largest floating wind farm. In October of 2018, 98% of Scotland’s electricity was generated by wind energy.
Iceland was the first country to propose 100% renewable energy in 1998. Iceland generates the most clean electricity per person in the world. Nearly 100% of Iceland’s energy comes from renewable sources, mainly from hydropower (72%) and geothermal (28%) energy.
Nicaragua has pledged to generate at least 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. In 2012, Nicaragua invested the fifth-largest percentage worldwide of its GDP in renewable energy.
Germany is a world leader in solar energy. At the beginning of 2018, Germany generated enough power from renewable sources to power every German household for one year. Germany’s goal is to get 65% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
Uruguay is almost 100% powered by renewable energy in less than 10 years of concerted effort. According to Ramón Méndez, Uruguay’s head of climate change policy, the country was able to accomplish this due to “clear decision-making, a supportive regulatory environment and a strong partnership between the public and private sector.”
Denmark set a world record in 2017 for the highest percentage of wind power achieved of 43%. Denmark gets over half of its electricity from solar and wind power and plans to be free of fossil fuels by 2050.
The United States has the second-highest installed wind energy capacity behind China and the fifth-highest installed solar PV capacity. Unfortunately, the United States is also one of the largest energy consumers in the world.
Despite being the world’s largest carbon emitter, China is becoming one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy, particularly in solar and wind. China is home to five of the world’s largest solar manufacturing plants and the largest manufacturer of the wind turbine. China plans to have 35% of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2030.