In the last few decades, we have come to realise the potentially devastating impact of fossil fuels on our environment and planet. The destructive gases released by the burning of fossil fuels is causing what is known as the greenhouse effect, where the sun’s rays are magnified, and heat can’t escape the atmosphere, gradually warming the planet. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence is that this is happening, and that it will have terrible effects on our planet.
But, all is not lost. Countries are beginning to embrace new, cleaner ways to generate electricity, that do not use fossil fuels, and that do not contribute harmful and destructive greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere. These are hydroelectricity, biomass, wind power, and solar power. These methods do not produce harmful emissions and are much friendlier to the planet’s atmosphere. Different countries have begun to specialise in different methods of producing renewable energy, so what renewable sources are dominating in different nations?
Few countries’ renewables markets are dominated by biomass energy, though this is the case in nations like Belgium, Hungary, and Poland. And whilst wind power dominates in Germany, the country does produce the most amount of energy from biomass in the world – at 50,000 gwh. The US and China are also among the world’s top users of biomass energy, but, again, it is not these countries’ primary sources of renewable energy.
Home of the iconic Three Gorges Dam, a major source of hydroelectric power, China is, unsurprisingly, the world’s top producer of hydroelectricity, and it is their main source of renewable power, with 856,000 gwh produced by hydropower. In fact, hydroelectricity seems to be the world’s main source of renewable energy, being the dominant renewable power source in the vast majority of nations, including Brazil and Canada – the two countries immediately behind China in the amount of hydropower produced.
Just two countries get most of their renewable energy from solar power, those being the Philippines and Israel. Elsewhere, solar is still an insignificant part of the green energy revolution, perhaps down to the fact the technology is still unreliable and a work in progress. The world’s biggest producer of solar power is, once again, Germany, with 38,000 gwh, with China and the US just behind.
A significant source of power in the Europe and Northern Africa, wind power is the dominant form of renewable electricity in the UK, Germany, and Tunisia. Despite this, though, Germany is only the world’s third biggest producer of wind power, behind the United States of America and China. Wind is responsible for 88,000 gwh in Germany, compared to 184,000 in the US, and 156,000 in China.
This feature is contributed by Emily Birling.