Scotland is producing so much energy from renewable sources, it will do better than meet its 2020 80 percent target. By 2025, First Minister Alex Salmond said Tuesday Scotland will meet 100 percent of its own energy needs with renewables and have leftovers to export.
Scotland is not alone in pursuing a 100 percent renewables policy. Iceland already gets 81 percent of its primary energy from renewable sources, with 100 percent of its electricity production coming from renewables. Iceland expects to reach the 100 percent mark on primary energy by 2050. And Iceland is able to rely on renewable energy despite its consumption rate, one of the highest per capita in the world.
Germany, whose geographic position is not particularly favorable for producing renewable energy, has recently concluded that it too is capable of moving toward 100 percent reliance on renewable energy sources.
The United States lags far behind European countries in developing renewable energy. The U.S. Department of Energy reported in August that renewable energy’s market share was 8 percent of total energy consumption in 2009.
By contrast, several European countries produced 20 percent or more of their final energy from renewables by 2005 including Latvia, Austria, Finland, and Portugal. Sweden was already producing 40 of its final energy from renewables in 2005. Even China met a 10 percent target in 2008, two years early, and is now aiming for 15 percent by 2020.
Unlike 100 other countries, the U.S. does not yet have a renewable energy goal. According to Leadenergy, the Senate’s current consideration of adopting a national renewable energy standard are likely to yield a goal of 15 percent renewable energy use by 2021. But a 2009 report by National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that if Congress did nothing, renewables would reach this15 percent market share by 2021 through “business as usual.”
Even individual states are outperforming the nation when it comes to setting clean energy standards. Colorado recently adopted a standard requiring 30 percent reliance on renewables for electricity production by 2020. Maine’s standard calls for 40 percent reliance on renewables for electricity production by 2017 and California’s goal is 33 percent by 2030. 36 states have established standards, almost all of them more ambitious than the plan under consideration in the Senate.