When discussing topics like renewable resources and emission reduction, it’s quite easy to focus solely on developed countries across Europe and North America. However, doing so leaves out some of the largest contributors to renewable energy and sustainability as a whole.
In fact, developing nations might have the advantage when it comes to investing in renewable resources. So, why aren’t we paying more attention to their advancements on a global level?
While developed nations face political and financial opposition from their existing energy infrastructures, many developing countries have the opportunity to build from scratch in an era when renewable resources are the primary focus.
And, perhaps most important of all, we’re seeing this trend emerge in several different ways around the world.
In 2018, Kenya’s president announced plans to use only renewable resources for energy by the year 2020. This might seem like a lofty goal, but in that same year, Kenya was named ninth in the world for their geothermal power capacity.
In fact, 70 percent of Kenya’s installed energy capacity relies on renewables resources. Compared to global averages, this is three times the amount of most countries.
While Kenya easily takes the lead in Africa’s geothermal power sector, the country has also opened the continent’s largest wind power instalment. If these developments continue, Kenya will easily become not just the leader of Africa’s renewable resources, but also the world’s.
Halfway across the globe, Costa Rica is also taking the lead in harnessing renewable resources. But they’re doing so in a slightly different way than Kenya and other developing countries.
Although renewable energy is important to Costa Rica’s goals, completely eliminating fossil fuel is not the country’s aim. Instead, Costa Rica has pledged to become “carbon neutral” by the year 2021.
How Is Carbon Neutrality Different from Renewable Energy?
Unlike other sustainable initiatives that look to eliminate carbon emissions at the source, Costa Rica takes a different approach. The nation still allows for the use of coal, oil, and gas for fuel. But it requires that companies offset their emissions in other ways, like by planting trees.
However, this doesn’t mean that Costa Rica is ignoring renewable resources. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: As of 2018, 80 percent of Costa Rican power comes from hydroelectric plants. Combined with the nation’s carbon neutrality goals, there’s no question where the developing country’s priorities lie.
Today, it’s hard to think of China as anything but a world leader (at least economically.) But this is a result of rapid development within just the past few decades.
Unfortunately, this rapid development brought along an unsustainable and dangerous amount of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007, the situation came to a head with China’s push to formally invest in renewable energy for the first time.
Since then, China has worked to decrease its consumption of fossil fuels and its output of carbon emissions. Although China’s power use is still rising, the nation is now projected to be the world’s largest investor in renewable energy.
The International Future of Renewable Energy
If you asked the average person on the street to name the world’s top contributors to renewable energy, you’d probably get a list of developed countries across Europe and North America. But as the information above clearly shows, developing nations are already taking the lead and overshadowing “world leaders” in renewable energy initiatives.
So, what does the future of renewable energy hold in store for humanity as a whole?
How Will the Cost of Renewable Energy Change?
Even today, power from renewable resources costs less than most people realise. However, much of the world lacks the infrastructure to support such an industry.
Fortunately, as technology continues to advance the entry costs of renewable energy will continue to drop.
For example, industry experts believe that a new solar plant will cost 71 percent less to build in 2050 than it would today. Changes like this could make investing in renewable energy much more attractive to companies in the very near future.
How Will These Changes Affect Consumers?
In many areas of the U.K. and the rest of the world, consumers already have the opportunity to support renewable energy initiatives through their chosen utility company. While these programs change little about your home electricity service, the funds allow utility companies to focus on developing renewable resources for the future.
Citizens also have the option to directly invest in renewable energy, like purchasing solar panels for their residential homes. As time goes on, we will likely see the prices of these consumer-level energy resources drop considerably.
At this point in time, though, every little bit counts.
What are your thoughts on the U.K.’s current energy policy? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.