Which Countries Use the Most Renewable Energy?

As we head into this Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to write a quick post listing the countries that use the most renewable energy.

That question is proving to be a little trickier than I thought.  First of all, what is renewable, what is not?  Some statistics include hydroelectric and biomass, others do not.  Some indexes forget to include geothermal.  In addition, is it better to look at total energy production from renewable sources, percentage of overall production, or actual consumption of renewable electricity?

For this post, let’s look at TOTAL energy production from renewable sources including Wind, Solar, Geothermal, and Biomass.  (Why did I leave out Hydroelectricity? Based on overall environmental impact.  More on that later.)

Given these parameters, lets look at the Top 5 Renewable Energy Producers by country:

1. The U.S.A.



That’s right, according to the Christian Science Monitor, as of 2011, the US produced more renewable energy than other nation, responsible for 24.7% of renewable energy production.







2. Germany


Germany has made a huge commitment towards renewable energy, vowing to eliminate all nuclear by 2022.  In 2011, Germany accounted for 11.7% of global renewable energy.





3. Spain


Though it is a net importer of energy, Spain is known for its wind energy production, and the nation accounts for 7.8% of the world’s RE.






4. China


China has recently become the world’s largest energy consumer.  Although they are not known for clean energy policy, the are now leading the world in investment in renewable energy as well.       In 2011, they accounted for 7.6% of RE production.






5. Brazil


Another burgeoning country, Brazil is building a lot of renewable energy to keep up with growing demand.  Accounting for 5% of global RE production in 2011, the country has promised to power the 2014 World Cup with solar power.





Now wait a second, does this list look funny to anyone else?  The US? Brazil?  CHINA?  When I think about clean energy, these are NOT the names that generally occur to me.  While it is worth noting that these countries produce the highest amount of renewable energy, it is important to note that they are also some of the biggest CONSUMERS of energy overall.  Three of the countries from this list are also in the top 5 Coal consumers:  China (#1), The US (#2), and Germany (#5).

Next week we will look at which countries produce the highest percentage of their electricity from renewables.

Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard Remains Intact!

Good news Missourians!

The State Legislative session has ended, without HB44 reaching the senate floor, thus preventing it from passing into law.

You may remember from my previous post that HB 44, introduced to the state House by Rep. Bart Korman, sought to count any and all hydroelectric facilities as renewable energy in Missouri.  This was a direct attack on Missouri’s Renewable Energy Standard, which passed by an overwhelming majority in 2008.  The RES set a goal of supply 15% of Missouri’s electricity from renewable sources by 2021.  The RES was supported by many different groups because of its promise to bring new jobs and money to the state, as well as clean up our environment.

HB 44 was introduced to weaken Missouri’s committment to renewable energy, passed through the Missouri House, and made it to committee in the Senate.  Luckily, that’s where it stopped.   The same diverse group that helped pass the RES in the first place stepped up to tell the Senate that the bill would not bring in any jobs, would not help the local economy, and would not move Missouri forward.  Our Senators heard, and although they did not hold a vote on the matter, they ended the session without a decision, effectively killing the bill.

Kudos to all who signed petitions, called congress people, and made your opinion heard.

Missourians: Help defeat HB 44!

My fellow Missourians:

In 2008, Missouri overwhelmingly passed a Renewable Energy Standard that set a goal of providing 15% of our state’s electricity from renewable resources by 2021.  This is a very achievable goal that would energize our state’s economy (pardon the pun) by adding a projected 22,000 jobs.

HB 44 is an attack aimed at weakening that standard.

HB 44 seeks to reclassify EXISTING hydroelectric plants in Missouri as renewable sources of electricity.  What’s the problem with that?  By reclassifying pre-existing hydro plants, it looks as if the state is closer to the 15% goal WITHOUT adding any renewable energy to our grid!  This bill adds NO new jobs, NO new infrastructure, does NOTHING to reduce pollution, and does NOTHING in general except make utilities seem like they are complying with the standard, when they are actually doing NOTHING!

The renewable energy standard set in 2008 is achievable, with benchmarks of 2% in 2011, 5% by 2014, 10% by 2018, and finally 15% by 2021.  This in not even an ambitious goal: Kansas has a RES goal of 20%, and Illinois is going for 25% by 2025.  Iowa already generates 25% of their electricity from renewable sources.

This bill is attempting to hamper progress in Missouri.  It has already passed the house.  Let’s stop it in the senate! How can you help?  Visit Renew Missouri, call your senator, and check in for updates on the bill.

A related question: IS hydroelectricity a form of renewable energy? erm… Sort of.  More on that from Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative blog.