The ongoing debate around whether it’s feasible to have an electric grid running on 100 percent renewable power in the coming decades often misses a key point: many countries and regions are already at or close to 100 percent now.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are seven countries already at, or very, near 100 percent renewable power: Iceland (100 percent), Paraguay (100), Costa Rica (99), Norway (98.5), Austria (80), Brazil (75), and Denmark (69.4).
The main renewables in these countries are hydropower, wind, geothermal, and solar.
A new international study, which debunks many myths about renewable energy, notes that many large population regions are “at or above 100%” including Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Hostein regions, New Zealand’s South Island, and Denmark’s Samsø island. In Canada, both Quebec and British Columbia are at nearly 100 percent renewable power.
Last summer, China’s State-run Xinhua News Agency reported that “Qinghai Province has just run for seven straight days entirely on renewable energy … only wind, solar and hydro.” This was part of a test by the country’s State Grid Corporation to show a post-fossil-fuel future was practical.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has projected that by 2040, Germany’s grid will see nearly 75 percent renewable penetration, Mexico will be over 80 percent, and Brazil and Italy will be over 95 percent.
BNEF was not looking at what could theoretically happen by mid-century if countries pushed as hard as required by the Paris Climate Accord. They were just looking at business as usual over the next two decades.
A study out earlier this month found, “Indonesia has far more than enough pumped hydro storage sites to support a 100% renewable electricity grid.” Storage is one of the most straightforward ways to integrate wind and solar power into the grid, to account for the times when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. . .