Countries leading the world in renewable energy generate up to 98 per cent of their power from eco-friendly energy sources.
Costa Rica, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Tajikistan lead the world in generation and use of renewable energy with some even surpassing their domestic demand and exporting the surplus to other countries.
The IEA’s latest report predicts a significant increase of nearly 2,400 GW (around 75 per cent) in global renewable capacity from 2022 to 2027. This growth is driven by ambitious expansion policies in key markets (for example, faster policy implementation in China, Europe, the United States, and India), and the economic attractiveness of renewable technologies amidst high fossil fuel prices and the energy crisis.
Below is a list of eight countries that are leading examples of renewable energy adoption.
Costa Rica has generated more than 98 per cent of its energy (excluding the transportation sector) from renewable energy. 75.16 per cent from hydropower, 12.97 per cent from geothermal sources, 10.65 per cent from wind, and less than one per cent from biomass and solar panels. This is more than the country needed since they had sold 747 gigawatt hours in the Regional Electricity Market, helping neighbour countries to reach their targets. Costa Rica is also working together to reach net-zero emission, a carbon-neutral position, in 2050. This dedication to sustainability extends beyond energy production, as the country has many other environmentally friendly initiatives, including the growing number of eco-lodges around Costa Rica.
Sweden’s total energy needs (not just electricity) were covered by 43 per cent hydroelectric, 31 per cent nuclear, 15 per cent wind, nine per cent biofuels, and less than one per cent solar, which resulted in surprisingly low carbon dioxide emission rates. However, since then, monthly figures came back even more impressive, as they managed to increase the ratio of wind to 27 per cent. They also set their sights on a 100 per cent renewable electricity generation target by 2040 and carbon-neutral by 2045.
In Iceland, 85 per cent of total energy supply comes from renewable sources. However, 100 per cent of the electricity needs are satisfied with renewable energy sources, approximately 70 per cent from hydropower, and 30 per cent from geothermal. You could argue that it is an advantage that Iceland is a small nation (95 times smaller compared to the United States) and is located far away from the large continents, so it is easier for them than for others. Even so, not all small nations could reach these heights by 2022.
Norway’s electricity generation is 92 per cent derived from its extensive hydropower resources. Additionally, the country exhibits a high level of electrification in its energy demand, with electricity satisfying nearly half of the nation’s total final consumption. This is the highest share among the member countries of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Due to its large oil and natural gas reserves, 87 per cent of its energy production was exported. Norway also works towards being carbon-neutral by 2050.
Uruguay’s electricity was produced by 94 per cent renewable sources, 33 per cent from hydropower, 31 per cent from wind, 17 per cent biomass, and four per cent solar. In 2022, the country exported 17 per cent of the produced electricity to Argentina. It plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050 by investing in green hydrogen since research shows that Uruguay has important competitive advantages to producing it from water and renewable energy sources.
Since Paraguay closed the last thermal plant the country became one of the two nations in the world (the other is Albania) that produces electricity 100 per cent from hydropower. There are three hydropower plants: Itaipú, Yacyretá, and Acaray, and the first one produces 80 per cent of all supply. Furthermore, Paraguay generates far more power than it uses from its three dams and is able to sell the remainder.
Brazil reached the highest level of renewable energy sources to cover its electricity needs. Brazilian Power Trading Chamber announced in February 2023 that 92 per cent was reached because 88 new solar parks were added to the grid, making the contribution of solar energy almost 65 per cent Hydropower at 17 per cent wind at 12 per cent and biomass at less than one per cent make up for the difference.
Tajikistan has some of the world’s largest hydropower plants, which generates energy to cover more than 91 per cent of the country’s electricity need. Due to the country’s high vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, they diversified their energy mix and the ratio of coal-fired power plants in the last years. While they plan to introduce more solar and wind-based options, hopefully, fossil fuels will not increase further on, and they get to keep being one of the highest renewable energy countries.