Progress in Use of Renewable Energy Sources

As over 190 countries debate alternatives for reaching the goal of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, success to date is noteworthy in some countries, even as the overall goal is distant. Local geography and climate weigh heavily on any country’s needs and capacity. Very cold climates require more energy for warmth, for example, while very hot climates present opportunities for solar energy. Countries with particular configurations of water and topography have developed extensive hydroelectric power generation. Political considerations enter into the equation as well, such as popular opposition to nuclear energy and resistance to change by established utilities, as well as a myriad of environmental organizations promoting preservation and sustainability.


Replacing non-renewable sources of electricity with renewable sources has enjoyed varying levels of success around the world. Hydroelectric power generates over 95% of electricity in several countries. Norway is the largest generator of electricity from hydropower plants. Its 263 plants generate 95.8% of Norway’s electricity, made possible by its topography. Several smaller African countries generate 99-100% of their electricity using hydropower. Wind produces 29% of Denmark’s electricity, and Portugal and Ireland each generate more than 16% of their electricity from wind. Denmark and Finland each generate about 15% of their electricity from biomass. Geothermal sources produce at least 15% of electricity in the Philippines, Costa Rica, Kenya, and El Salvador. Solar energy currently accounts for the smallest share of renewable electricity. Italy, Germany, and Spain, which lead in percentage of electricity demand met by solar power; each produce just over 3% of their electricity from solar.


Plug-in electric vehicle sales have a long way to go before they come close to sales of vehicles powered by petroleum. Norway again is a leader in this regard. Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) accounted for 14.5% of new car sales in Norway in the first half of 2014; sales were up over 300% from 2013. Sales of PEVs in the Netherlands were 4.6% of new car sales. U.S. sales of PEVs had less than a one percent market share as of late 2014.

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