Where In The World Have We Achieved 100% Renewable Power?

There are quite a number of places in the world where the seemingly unimaginable has already been achieved. In so many places, it is still inconceivable for this to be a reality. What are we talking about? Burning fossil fuels in order to generate electricity. Indeed, believe it or not, there are a few places in the world where people are currently running 100% renewable energy.

In 2015, there were so many cities, states and countries who announced the fact that they had managed to switch on to renewable energy, or were in a process of increasing the production of non-polluting energy. It is important to note that this is an incredible shift from a situation where so many people were referring to renewable energy as an alternative that was too expensive to consider in the first place, especially after the financial crisis of 2008.

So which are the places where this incredible fete has already been achieved? Where is this being produced, and how is it being done? It is important to highlight the fact that most of the places where people enjoy 100% renewable energy must always have a combination of two important factors; a small population and the presence of significant natural resources.

The following are some of the countries that have already achieved this:

Costa Rica

Costa Rica made headlines when they announced in March 2015 that the country had been running on renewable energy for 75 days of 2015, after heavy rains souped-up its hydropower schemes. Running a country on renewables for a stint (even a long one) isn’t the same as having a steady system that fulfills all a country’s needs, but it’s still impressive.

Other countries with great hydropower capacity include Albania, Afghanistan and Lesotho. A test for many of them in the future will be finding ways to develop their economies without a sudden ramp up in fossil fuel use.

Denmark (sometimes)

Denmark is already a world leader when it comes to wind power, so it is no surprise that they are listed in here. More than 40% of its population uses power from the wind turbines. When there is too much wind, the country can produce up to 140%. The excess is exported, when possible, but better storage would make the excess even more valuable.

Lower Austria

Austria’s largest state announced this year that it had achieved a goal of 100% renewable power by harnessing the power of the Danube, and supplementing that hydropower with solar and biomass. It now runs carbon free. The rest of the country also does well in comparison to many of its European neighbors.

Norway and Iceland

Natural resources helped both these countries achieve close to 100% renewable power, years ago: Iceland mainly through geothermal heat, and Norway through hydropower.

(IEA)

A bunch of islands

Island nations are some of the most vulnerable to climate change, but their geography makes renewable energy an obvious choice. Surrounding waters can be used for ocean energy or offshore wind, while the alternatives aren’t great: on-site power plants, imported fuel, and expensive undersea cables.

In 2012, Tokelau, a set of three tiny islands between New Zealand and Hawaii, replaced its diesel energy system with one based on solar. The Orkney islands off Scotland, a hub for research on marine energy where many locals also have a wind turbine in their garden, currentlyproduces more that 100% of its energy needs.

Germany

Though nowhere near 100% renewable, Germany deserves a mention. On its best day in 2015, Germany produced 78% of its total electricity needs from renewables, thanks to a massive program of building and investment undertaken as part of the country’s “Energiewende”, or energy transformation, aimed at moving the nation away from both fossil fuels and nuclear.

In the first half of 2014, Germany produced an average of 31% of its energy from renewables. For a developed country with a population of 80 million, that’s huge. It also produced more renewable energy overall than any other European country.
With a deal reached at the climate conference in Paris this month that should pave the way for far more investment in renewable energy—especially from rich countries helping poor ones “leapfrog” the fossil era—2015 may well have been the best year ever for renewable energy. It’s a trend that looks set to continue.
Written by  Cassie Werber for Quartz