Going 100% Renewable
October 31, 2018
For many countries it is a dream, 100% electricity generated by renewable sources, and for some countries it is an entirely feasible reality. Whether or not it is feasible depends on many factors, political will being one but perhaps not the most determining factor. As renewable energy sources rely on natural characteristics such as terrain, rainfall, solar irradiation, and wind speed, it is difficult for many countries to become 100% renewable at present, without feasible energy storage capability.
Hydroelectricity is currently the best suited energy source for all types of loads presented on the grid as it can easily be scaled up and down based on consumption, with short lead-times. There are some countries and regions that are fortunate enough to have the natural resources and hydro-electricity infrastructure readily available for renewable energy on-demand.
Quebec in Canada is the most populous such region in which the provincial utility Hydro Quebec is able to supply over 95% of its electricity sourced from Hydro Electric sources. It should be mentioned, however, that Quebec does import energy from neigbouring provinces in order to meet its demand, whereby that energy is produced using non-renewable sources, so the province is not 100% renewable.
Paraguay’s electricity consumption only accounts for roughly 10% of all of the electricity that is generated in the country. Over 90% of electricity generated in Paraguay is exported, with almost 100% of that generation taking place in the country’s hydro-electric facilities. With a small diesel plant capable of performing limited balancing tasks and emergency reserve, Paraguay is the world’s most populous country to use 100% renewable energy.
Norway is Europe’s most oil-rich state, though hardly any of it is used for domestic energy consumption. 98% of Norway’s electricity is generated using renewable sources. Boasting some of the lowest energy costs in the world, plus the ability to export its fossil fuels has provided a lot of wealth for Norwegians.
There are other countries such as Costa Rica and Uruguay that also rely almost exclusively on Hydropower for their energy production and can achieve 90% and higher generation rates with Hydro; but some other, smaller countries are able to go 100% renewable using other sources of electricity. Iceland is able to get 28% of its electricity from Geothermal sources, and Tokelau in the pacific boasts a 100% solar electricity network for its population of 1400 residents.