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Renewable Energy Around the World

When it comes to the design and implementation of renewable energy solutions, not all countries are created equal. From solar and wind power through to hydro and geothermal energy solutions, some nations are doing much more than others in the movement towards a low-carbon future. According to the Climate Council, Sweden is aiming to be the world's first 100 percent renewable country when it comes to electricity generation, with other ambitious green nations including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Scotland, Germany, and Uruguay.

Back in 2015, Sweden made a forward-thinking and rather ambitious goal to eliminate fossil fuels from the electricity generation cycle within 25 years. With record investment in solar power, wind power, and clever storage and grid systems, they're on track to reach their goal and become the first country to achieve 100 percent renewable energy status by 2040. While the timeline set by the Swedes was originally seen as a lofty goal, a number of smaller nations have risen to the challenge and set even more impressive targets. While the world's biggest energy consumers are making some in-roads when it comes to renewables, many developing nations are moving ahead faster due to fewer economic and political roadblocks.

Costa Rica is the obvious example, with the unique geography and environment of this small nation seeing it make huge investments in a wide range of renewable energy solutions. From solar and wind through to hydro and geothermal, Coast Rica already produces 95 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. While it is very ambitious, their goal to become carbon-neutral by 2021 will blow the Swedes out of the water if it can be met. Nicaragua is another small country with big ambitions, with the Central American nation aiming for 90 percent renewables by 2020.

Scotland is another nation benefiting from a unique environment and weather patterns, with the wild Scottish winds responsible for powering an estimated 98 percent of the nation's electricity needs. In what is an amazing effort, the developing nation of Uruguay has also progressed at an amazing rate over recent years, from 40 percent renewables in 2012 to almost 100 percent today. With so many larger nations struggling to make renewable energy targets let along reach them, Uruguay has succeeded thanks to a supportive regulatory environment and a tight relationship between government and the private sector.

Germany is one of few larger nations which has managed to become a global leader in renewable energy, with its target being 65 percent renewables by 2030. They may be able to reach this goal much faster, however, with enough electricity to power every household in the country for a year produced in the first six months of 2018 alone. Denmark is also producing a lot of its electricity from solar power, with the Danes aiming to be 100 percent powered by renewables by 2050. While sunny Australia has the ability to source much more electricity from solar, current targets down under are way behind those in Europe.

While a number of nations are making fantastic efforts towards a carbon-neutral future, the countries with the most significant emissions often have the lowest targets. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the biggest carbon offenders are China, the United States, India, Russia, and Japan. China alone is emitting about 30 percent of the global carbon emission, with the US accounting for around 15 percent, and India responsible for 7 percent. Australia is currently on track to reach the relatively low target of 50 percent renewables by 2025, with New Zealand fairing much better with 90 percent already reached and 100 percent the target by 2035.

Image source: Vaclav Volrab/Shutterstock

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