12 Most Advanced Countries in Renewable Energy
In this article, we will take a look at 12 most advanced countries in renewable energy. If you want to see more most advanced countries in renewable energy, go directly to 5 Most Advanced Countries in Renewable Energy.
The most common types of renewable energy include solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass energy.
Solar energy uses sunlight to generate electricity with the use of solar panels while wind power use wind to drive a turbine that generates electricity.
Hydropower includes building a dam to generate a controlled flow of water to drive a turbine which generates electricity while tidal energy is another form of hydro energy that uses tidal currents to drive turbine generators.
Geothermal energy harnesses the natural heat below the earth's surface to either heat homes directly or to generate electricity.
Meanwhile, biomass energy according to EDF is the, "conversion of solid fuel made from plant materials into electricity. Although fundamentally, biomass involves burning organic materials to produce electricity, and nowadays this is a much cleaner, more energy-efficient process. By converting agricultural, industrial and domestic waste into solid, liquid and gas fuel, biomass generates power at a much lower economic and environmental cost."
Certain areas are better than others at renewable energy. Areas with a lot more sun can be more ideal for solar while areas that are very windy can be more ideal for wind energy.
Some renewable energy resources such as solar and wind are intermittent and can only generate electricity when there is sunlight and wind, respectively. Other renewable energy resources such as hydro are more regular and can generate electricity as long as water flows through a turbine.
Although there are many different types of renewable energy, renewable energy has several things in common.
Renewable energy has a low carbon footprint. Although producing a solar panel might emit some carbon, generating electricity from a solar panel doesn't. As a result, renewable energy can help nations reduce carbon emissions which could help fight global warming.
The UN writes, "Renewable energy sources – which are available in abundance all around us, provided by the sun, wind, water, waste, and heat from the Earth – are replenished by nature and emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air. Fossil fuels still account for more than 80 percent of global energy production, but cleaner sources of energy are gaining ground. About 29 percent of electricity currently comes from renewable sources."
Renewable energy is also renewable. Generating energy from a solar panel in one day won't deplete the total amount of solar energy possible, for example.
Lower Costs and Supportive Government Policies
In recent decades, renewable energy has expanded rapidly thanks to lower costs and more supportive government policies.
In terms of economic competitiveness, the cost of solar declined 85% between 2010 and 2020. The cost of onshore wind fell 56% and the cost of offshore wind energy decreased 48% over the same time period. As a result of lower costs, some forms of renewable energy are the cheapest source of power in many areas. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, nearly two thirds of the wind and solar projects built in 2020 will generate cheaper electricity than the world's cheapest new coal plants.
Governments have also helped increase renewable energy adoption with subsidies in many areas and mandates in other areas. In terms of subsidies, many countries have tax incentives for qualifying renewable energy projects. In terms of mandates, the U.S. federal government must consume at minimum 7.5% of its total electricity from renewable sources in each fiscal year.
For 2021, the IEA estimated in December of that year that global renewable electricity generation rose 6% year over year and reached more than 7,900 TWh. For the year, around 290 GW of new renewable power was commissioned worldwide, with solar PV accounting for over half of all the renewable power expansion.
According to the IEA's Renewables 2022 report, renewables are expected to expand much faster in the next five years that it did in 2021. For 2022 to 2027, the IEA sees renewables growing by nearly 2,400 GW in its main forecast, which would be a 85% acceleration from the previous five years. As a result of the growth, renewables are expected to account for more than 90% of the global electricity capacity expansion over the 2022 to 2027 period.
Given the growth, the IEA expects renewables to be the largest source of global electricity generation by 2025, surpassing coal. By 2027, the agency expects renewables to account for 38% of the world's electricity generation.
For future decades, it is likely that renewable capacity will increase even further given decreasing costs and the need to reduce carbon emissions.
For our list of 12 Most Advanced Countries in Renewable Energy, we used the top 12 countries by renewable energy generation in 2021 according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2022.
We ranked the top 12 countries based on the terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy they generated in 2021.
For those of you interested, also check out 15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy.
12 Most Advanced Countries in Renewable Energy
2021 Renewable Energy Generation (TWh): 61.3
Given it has a modern economy and one of the highest GDP per capita in Asia, Australia is one of the most advanced countries when it comes to renewable energy. According to the Australian government, renewable energy accounted for 29% of the country's total electricity generation in 2021, the highest on record.
Of the total electricity generated, solar accounted for 12%, wind accounted for 10%, and hydro accounted for 6%. Small scale solar generation in the country grew 29% in the year and wind generation rose 19%. Collectively, Australia generated 61.3 TWh of renewable energy in 2021.
With the need to reduce emissions and considering the continued expected decline in solar and wind costs, it is likely that Australia's renewable energy generation will continue to increase in the future.
2021 Renewable Energy Generation (TWh): 62.7
Turkey is an advanced country in renewables given renewable energy accounts for the majority of the country's electric generation. According to the International Trade Administration, renewable power plants accounted for 54% of the country's total installed capacity of 100 GW in 2021. For the year, hydro accounted for 31 GW of capacity, wind energy accounted for 10 GW, solar energy accounted for 7 GW, and geothermal accounted for 2GW. Collectively, renewables in Turkey generated 62.7 TWh.
In the future, solar could have more growth potential in Turkey given the country is the second best nation in Europe for solar power generation based on solar intensity and availability.
2021 Renewable Energy Generation (TWh): 62.8
With one of the largest economies in the world, France is also a leader in renewable energy given it is the host of the Paris Agreement, which is a legally binding internationally treaty that includes commitments for member countries to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of its electricity generation, France is a leader in decarbonized electricity given nuclear energy accounted for 71% of its power mix in 2019 and hydro power accounted for 10%. As a result, France has the lowest per capita emissions of advanced economies.
France generated 62.8 TWh of renewable energy in 2021, ranking #10 on our list of 12 Most Advanced Countries in Renewable Energy.
2021 Renewable Energy Generation (TWh): 71.4
Italy is a renewable energy leader given it generated 71.4 TWh of renewable energy in 2021, which accounted for 36% of electricity consumption. There's more growth in the future as Italy hopes renewables will account for 55% of electricity generation by 2030 with solar likely accounting for a substantial percentage of the growth. Given its geography, Italy gets more hours of sunlight than many other European countries do.
2021 Renewable Energy Generation (TWh): 95.8
Given its favorable geography for solar and windy climate, Spain has substantial potential for renewables. Given its government policies, Spain is trying to unlock that potential as the country has a 2030 goal of renewable energy accounting for 74% of its total electricity generation, up from around 47% in 2021 during which the country generated 95.8 TWh of renewable energy.
7. United Kingdom
2021 Renewable Energy Generation (TWh): 116.9
The United Kingdom ranks #7 in our list of 12 Most Advanced Countries in Renewable Energy given the country generated 116.9 TWh of renewable energy last year, which accounted for around 50% of UK's total electricity generation. That's a pretty encouraging increase from the 43.1% share that renewables accounted for in 2020. With favorable government policies and decreasing costs, it is likely that the UK will increase its renewable energy generation further in the future.
2021 Renewable Energy Generation (TWh): 130.3
Given it imports a substantial amount of fossil fuels to generate electricity, Japan's government has enacted policies to increase renewable energy generation in the country in recent years. As a result, renewable energy's share of the country's total electricity generation has doubled over the last ten years to around 20%. In the future, Japan's government hopes 36-38% of its electricity will come from renewable energy by 2030. In 2021, Japan generated 130.3 TWh of renewable energy.
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Disclosure: None. 12 Most Advanced Countries in Renewable Energy is originally published on Insider Monkey.