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Which are the leading countries in renewable energies?

Manon unidas sobre un mapa mundi

This November the Climate Summit (COP26) will be hosted in Glasgow. The energy transition has become an urgent priority and therefore the leading renewable energy countries will meet to find a solution to the problem of climate change.

The energy transition is now a reality. The need to reduce global warming is urgent, and with energy being responsible for up to 90% of carbon emissions, now is the time to bet on renewable energies. With this common ultimate goal, countries joining this trend guided by those countries that are today leaders in renewable energies.

In December 2015, following the COP21 in Paris, an international agreement was signed that set the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees. In the coming days, the COP26 Climate Change Summit will be held, which this year will have as its main objectives to accelerate the energy transition and the switch to electric vehicles or to mobilize financing.

This summit will bring together the main world leaders with those of some of the leading renewable energy countries, which are expected to take the lead. But which countries will be leading the way in the deployment of green energy sources?

In 2019, the last Annual Climate Summit called for more commitment and ambition in countries’ targets. That year, the leading countries in renewable energy were the following.

  • China: China tops the list of leading renewable countries. In 2019 it had 789 GW of installed capacity, divided into 28% wind, 27% solar and the remaining 43% hydro. Something that seems shocking given its pollution levels, which have only rebounded due to its industrial growth.
  • United States: ranks second with 284 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity. The main energy sources are wind, with 39% of total renewables, solar with 24% and hydro with 32%.
  • Brazil: in third place, we find Brazil, which reached 142 GW that year. In this case, its main energy source is hydroelectric with 77%, followed by wind with 11% and finally, 11% of energy comes from biofuels.
  • India: India has 35% of its electricity coming from renewables although most of it is still produced from coal. It divides its 133GW between hydro (35%), wind (29%) and solar (27%). As with China, its economic growth has attracted renewable investment to the country.

Next come Germany, with 130 GW and 65% of generation from renewable sources; Japan (with 119 GW, mainly from solar and offshore wind); Canada, with 101.2 GW of wind and photovoltaic…and in ninth place, Spain, which produced 57.92 GW. Wind then generated 21.9% of the national electricity demand and solar energy 8%.

In terms of solar and wind generation, we see that China and the United States stand out as the largest producers of solar and wind; however, they imported more than 25% of their electricity in 2020. Among the countries that do not import such amount of their energy and generate more renewable energy are Denmark or Uruguay that generated 61% and 44% of their electricity with solar and wind energy respectively in 2020.

In this year, countries such as Vietnam, Chile and South Korea experienced exponential growth, quadrupling their solar and wind power production.

A year and a pandemic later, in 2021 and with a view to the next climate summit, there is a new push for renewables. The rankings are mostly unchanged. China at the top, with 894 GW; followed by the US (292 GW); Brazil (150 GW); India (134 GW); Germany (131 GW); Japan (101 GW) and Canada (101 GW). And, for the first time, we find Spain in eighth position, surpassing Italy and Russia, due to the boost to wind and photovoltaic.

In addition, a report was published this year that set out the most attractive markets for investment in non-hydroelectric renewables. The United States emerged as the leader in this ranking, presenting itself as the most attractive market after Joe Biden’s announcement to increase federal investment in renewable energies. This was followed by China and Germany, and in fourth and fifth place respectively, France and Spain. This is due to their ambitious long-term clean energy goals. Japan came in eighth place thanks to its commitment to offshore wind power.

Now that we know who are the leaders in renewable energy worldwide, we can say that the next climate summit will be decisive for the future of the planet’s climate. We will soon know which new countries will join the energy transition and hopefully, there will be more and more participation from all over the world.

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