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Published on June 12th, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown


New Report Ranks World’s Biggest Countries on Renewable Energy

June 12th, 2012 by  

During the past decade, United States renewable electricity production has increased by a considerable 300%. Despite this impressively rapid growth, the European Union is still far ahead the US, as European countries (especially Germany) utilize renewable energy much more than the US or the rest of the world.

All in all, in 2011, the United States obtained 2.7% of it’s electricity from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and some other waste-to-energy power plants (not including hydroelectricity). That put it at #7 among G-20 countries.



Not All Policies Are Created Equally

In the midst of worldwide renewable energy sector growth, some government policies encouraged renewable energy growth much more effectively than others, such as Germany’s feed-in tariffs.

The United States has been pursuing renewable energy less aggressively than Germany has, and, in accordance with the saying “you reap what you sow,” Germany has far more effectively stimulated renewable energy growth.

To fully understand the importance of weighing an aggressive growth policy versus a milder one, it’s important to understand the purpose of encouraging renewable energy usage.

Due to the fact that global warming is a time bomb that requires urgent action, a mild growth policy that leaves the United States generating only 2.7% of power from renewable sources is not adequate. Every year that coal power plants dominate, they make a significant contribution to our growing global warming problem.

If global warming was not an issue, it could be pursued less aggressively. However, peak oil is a concern as well.

At the upcoming Rio+20 Earth summit in Brazil, renewable energy policy is expected to be a major issue.

Renewable Energy World Leaders

In May, cloudy Germany obtained 30% of it’s electricity from solar power plants. At the moment, some smaller non-G20 countries — such as Spain, New Zealand, Iceland, and Norway — get more than 15% of their electricity from renewable sources.

As you can see in the graphic above, the top 5 “countries” of the G20 for renewable electricity production are:

  1. Germany
  2. EU-27
  3. Italy
  4. Indonesia
  5. UK

US Renewable Energy Challenges

Despite the success of U.S government policies to encourage (at least some) renewable energy growth, they are now under scrutiny by renewable energy opponents.

“Unfortunately, the very policies that have increased our renewable energy supplies and reduced our dependence on dirty fossil fuels are now under fire in the United States and elsewhere,” Jake Schmidt, NRDC’s International Climate Policy Director, comments. “That’s not just a threat to the thousands of new jobs being created by the renewable energy industry, but also a threat to our health, our environment and our planet.”

Source: NRDC
Images via Bert Van Dijk & NRDC

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

  • franciscoalmeida_br

    hey, Brazil is 88%, not 0,5% ; chart is BS !!!

  • Gokhan

    We just need better battery technologies, in 5 10 years we will face so many sector will be dead which based on conventional energies. 

    • Bob_Wallace

      I think we’re going to see some pretty good batteries coming to market over the next couple of years.

      Aquion is setting up a factory to produce sodium-ion batteries for grid storage and they should be in production in a few months. And they are just one of a few companies with promising products under development.
      Take a look at this video about the liquid metal battery that’s been developed at MIT. If it scales up it could be extremely cheap storage. http://www.ted.com/talks/donald_sadoway_the_missing_link_to_renewable_energy.html

  • Hencmac

    Why are respiratory sufferers not sueing the fossile fuel industry for damages

    • Bob_Wallace

      “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will roll out a proposal Friday to toughen standards for fine particulate matter, or soot, which is dangerous microscopic pollution emitted by factories, power plants, diesel vehicles and other sources.

      The proposal, which the agency is issuing under a court-ordered deadline, would pare the current annual exposure standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter down to 12 to 13, according to a senior administration official.
      EPA’s plan is certain to fuel election-year political fights over the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda. Lobbyists for oil companies and other industries have *pressed the administration* to
      maintain the current standards, warning that tougher rules will take an economic toll.”

  • Arjaytech

    very rarely do i come across a blog that’s both informative and entertaining, and let me tell

    you, you’ve hit the nail on the head

  • Habib Bahari

    I have developed a new wind renewable energy technology which is designed to be used in urban/city environment, it is called the Wind Tower. This has generated so much excitement among people who have seen a working prototype. Several universities and academies are looking to set up one. Unfortunately the US renewable energy venture capitalists are not  aggressive enough to push new technologies into the markets in order to speed up new technologies.(baharienergy@yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    What about Russia? Around 15% of all electricity comes from hydrostations?

    • Eduardo Pacheco

      Look at the map, it says that renewable energy in the picture does not includes hydro

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