Can the World Run on Renewable Energy?


Without doubt, renewable energy is on a roll. Denmark is producing 43% of its energy from renewables, and it aims for 70% by 2020. Germany, at more than 25% now and 30% soon, is going for 40% to 45% clean power by 2025, 55% to 60% by 2035, and an incredible 80% by 2050. China, despite many challenges, is the world’s leading source of renewable investment, as well as the largest solar manufacturer.

The United States, with about 13% renewable energy generation, has some catching up to do, though California (where some developers are incorporating solar into every house they build) points the way forward. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the solar market in the U.S. grew by 41% in 2013, and that it made up 20% of all new generating capacity in that year.

Both solar and wind are making strides. A global Bloomberg survey predicted that solar will grow more than 20% internationally in 2014 (as it did between 2012 and 2013). And the Global Wind Energy Council projects that 2014 will be a very good year internationally for wind as well, with dramatic increases over 2013 and at least 47 gigawatts of wind installed around the world.

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