European Countries Leading the Way Towards Clean Energy
Science has spoken, and the evidence is real. Climate change is happening, and it’s on track to spin out of control. Phasing out carbon pollution is one key piece of the puzzle, and it will require unprecedented teamwork from every nation on this planet.
While the last decade has seen twists and turns on the path towards clean energy, 2014 and the start of 2015 have seen a lot of electrifying news. Advances in technology, and the ambitions of countries willing to harness it, are proving that the transition to 100% renewable energy is not only possible, but cost-effective, too. Investment and development of solar and wind infrastructure, as well as energy output, is booming after a 3-year slump—a hopeful sign of things to come.
While many countries, especially in Europe, have been making recent headlines with their clean energy accomplishments, Scotland has stood out as an impressive leader. A recent study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found it feasible that Scotland’s power supply could be free from fossil fuels and nuclear by 2030. The Scottish government’s goal would be reached through a combination of plans to reduce energy demand and increase renewable energy development.
The plan is not without its challenges, but renewables are already Scotland’s biggest source of electricity, and the country has a strong history of clean energy innovation. Recent milestones punctuate Scotland’s status. In November of 2014, wind turbines produced more than 100% of the country’s domestic electricity needs. December outdid that with wind increasing that figure up to an astonishing 164%. On the solar side, June and July of 2014 gave Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness enough sunshine to provide over 100% of the electricity needs for an average home.
Pursuing its goal of being fossil fuel-free by 2030 would reinforce Scotland’s position as Europe’s renewable powerhouse, cut emissions and stimulate continued investment and employment opportunities.
Elsewhere in Europe, other countries are also making major progress, as reported by EcoWatch, and setting a few records along the way. The following are a few of the most notable accomplishments:
A longtime wind power pioneer, Denmark installed its first turbines back in the mid-‘70s. Fast forward to 2014, the country continues to break boundaries, setting a world record by generating 39.1% of overall electricity from wind. In fact, 2014’s numbers also proved that renewables can be cost-effective with onshore wind coming in as Denmark’s cheapest form of energy. With the goal of transitioning to 100% renewables by 2050, the country is already on target to receive 50% of its power from renewables by 2020.
In addition to the serious headway Scotland is making, electricity generated by wind power across the United Kingdom climbed 15% in 2014. The steadily climbing numbers mean that wind now powers 25% of homes in the United Kingdom. That’s 6.7 million households.
As Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany is seeing what could be described as an energy revolution. Since 1990, renewable electricity output has grown a staggering 800%. In 2014, almost 24% of Germany’s power was produced from clean sources with overall numbers showing renewable energy as the top contributor to the country’s electricity supply. Herzlichen glückwunsch!
2015 has barely begun and already Ireland is smashing records with windy conditions resulting in 2 national records. On January 1, wind energy output climbed to a record high of 1,872 megawatts. One week later on January 7, relentless winds generated 1,942 megawatts—enough to power 1.26 million homes. With 188 wind farms nationwide currently employing over 3,400 people, renewable energy has been a huge boost for Ireland’s economy.