Researchers at Stanford and UC-Davis recently issued a landmark study that has policy makers buzzing. Crunching the numbers on energy and economics, the researchers conclude that -- with existing technology -- the world could be entirely powered by renewable energy within 20 to 40 years.
The study also concludes that, while the technology is there, the political will to make changes may not be. In this edition of Seeker Daily, Laura Ling looks at countries that have already switched to alternative sources for some or all of their energy needs.
Amazingly, the Central American nation of Costa Rica actually ran on 100 percent renewable energy for 300 out of 365 days in 2015. Almost all of the country's infrastructure and utility energy is provided by hydroelectric and geothermal power, although the country still has about two million cars driving around using gas. Significantly, Costa Rica lawamakers approved another billion-dollar geothermal project in 2014, suggesting that the country can sustain the political will to commit to renewable energy.
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Iceland is another country enjoying great success with renewables. Nearly 100 percent of the country's electricity is now provided by geothermal and hydroelectric plants. In fact, Iceland generates the most clean electricity per person on Earth -- nearly nine time the European Union average. Iceland has taken a refreshingly straightforward approach to alternative energy by piping geothermal heat, via water, directly into 87 percent of homes.
It's estimated that using geothermal heat, instead of oil, has saved roughly eight billion dollars from 1970 to 2000, and lowered the country's carbon emissions by more than one third.
Albania and Paraguay have also converted almost entirely to renewable hydropower. Albania is home to eight major river systems, and Paraguay gets almost 100 percent of its electricity from the Itaipu Dam, nominated as one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Laura has more details in her report, or click on over to our related coverage on What Countries Are The Most Energy Efficient.
-- Glenn McDonald
Vox: Costa Rica Has Gone 76 Straight Days Using 100% Renewable Electricity
The Guardian: Iceland's Energy Answer Comes Naturally
Stanford News: The World Can Be Powered By Alternative Energy, Using Today's Technology, In 20-40 Years Says Stanford Researcher Mark Z. Jacobson