Countries Changing the World With Sustainable Energies
For those of us that live in or near any large cities, we know that renewable energy seems almost like a dream. Aside from the occasional solar panels speckled across rooftops, it seems virtually impossible to imagine an entire city, let alone country, thriving almost exclusively on renewable energy. At Eco Four Twenty we are here to show you that it is, in fact, very possible, and is already in motion around the world. Let’s look at some fantastic examples of countries trailblazing the renewable energy movement.
In 2020, Scotland generated 97.4% of its electricity demand from renewable energy. Scotland’s government has set the bar high for the rest of the world with its Climate Change Bill setting out a legally binding target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2045 and by 2030, ministers want renewable energy generation to account for 50% of energy demand across electricity, heat and transport. With a population of over 5.4 million citizens, this is no easy feat, however Scotland’s scenic landscape and accessibility to the sea has allowed for miraculous jumps to be made in the movement towards renewable energy.
The Scottish island of Eigg is sustained by 100% renewable energy. While there are only about 100 citizens living here, this reclusive island is used to be powered by diesel for only a few hours a day, with the fuel having to be shipped across hostile seas from the Scottish mainland. Now, with the use of a hydroelectric plan on the island, as well as 4 massive wind turbines, and back-up batteries to hold the power, Eigg has the cheapest electricity in the United Kingdom at £0.23 per kilowatt hour.
Journey to the centre of the earth, anyone? An all too familiar phrase for the scientists in Iceland working hard to establish geothermal power for the country. Two tectonic plates run through the center of the island, making it a hot spot for volcanoes and the magma that fuels geothermal power plants, and around the 1990s, Iceland made a drastic switch from coal plants to geothermal energy. Between 1990 and 2014, Iceland’s geothermal electricity production increased 1,700%, while the population grew only 25%.
More recently, as of 2020, 69.7% of Iceland’s electricity came from hydroelectric, and 30.3% from geothermal energy. That’s not all. Iceland is inspiring countries around the world to get on board with geothermal energy. Iceland is an important partner and co-financier of the UNEP African Rift Geothermal Development Facility Project. The effort, launched in 2010, is designed to spur geothermal investments in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Researchers have found a similar rift of tectonic plates that allow for geothermal activity. They line the Great East African Rift System, a 6,500-kilometre depression that stretches from northern Syria to central Mozambique. Along much of its length, heat from the interior of the earth bursts to the surface. It’s estimated that if Eastern Africa could harness that energy, it could generate 20 gigawatts of electricity. That is significant in a region plagued by energy shortages, where – depending on the country – 25 to 89 percent of the population did not have access to energy in 2018.
In 2020, 99.78% of Costa Rica’s energy was generated from clean sources; 72% of its energy from hydropower, 14.9% from geothermal sources, 12% from wind and 0.54% from biomass and solar panels. The Costa Rican government says its clean energy generation — which powers more than 1.5 million homes and 225,000 businesses — has saved the country nearly $500 million over the past 20 years compared to relying on fossil fuels.
Costa Rica has also instated a National Decarbonization Plan. This commitment to be a low-emission development conveys Costa Rica’s aspiration to be a modern, green and emissions-free economy, and commits the country to net-zero emissions by 2050. Some examples of the goals Costa Rica plans to achieve include: transforming light-duty vehicles to zero emissions, promoting efficient agro-food systems that generate low carbon, local consumption and export goods, and consolidating a livestock model based on productive efficiency and emission reductions.
It’s evident that Costa Rica’s commitment to reform the energy and eco-conscious living sector is of utmost importance to the country. Government involvement and leadership is setting the bar for not only the citizens of Costa Rica, but other nations who see lifestyle changes and want to participate as well.