Renewable Energy Leaders of the World Unite

The United States lags significantly behind other nations when it comes to renewable energy production. This is not new news to those who follow current energy policy, but if you’re not one of those people, it’s an issue to actively consider as the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil kicks off.

Even though U.S. renewable electricity production over the past decade has actually increased by 300%, that figure is still far lower when compared to the European Union and Germany in particular, which remains far ahead of many nations, obtaining an impressive 30% of its electricity from solar power alone. The U.S., on the other hand, obtained only 2.7% of its electricity in 2011 from renewable sources including solar, wind and geothermal.  It’s important to note that waste-to-energy power plants and biomass are often included in renewable energy portfolios, but opponents cite the burning of wood products as contradictory to decreasing GHG emissions.

Nevertheless, why does Germany have such a strong renewable energy base when compared to the U.S. and many other countries?  One important reason are the feed-in tariffs the German government has traditionally used to help stimulate the growth of this industry.  The U.S. does not subsidize renewable energy projects as frequently or as robustly and it shows, but tax rebates and other incentives do exist for residential solar panel installation depending upon the state.

Still, those rebates are often not enough to defray the upfront cost of panel installation, a burden that turns off many consumers. Residents also typically don’t know how to access and therefore take advantage of these rebates and others simply don’t care — after all, fossil fuel remains the “cheapest” energy source, although the effects on our planet are exceedingly costly.

Given the dire state of our climate, renewable energy should not be a luxury — it should be the energy of right now. Countries like Germany, Italy, Indonesia and the UK are listed among the top 5 out of the G20 participants for renewable energy production, so clearly it’s possible to move beyond fossil fuels and power a country with a clean energy portfolio; you just need the support and industry backing.

The United States is a much larger country with a strong fossil fuel lobby and more land mass and people to take into account, yet that should not hold policy makers back from taking full advantage of the renewable energy that exists. As Jake Schmidt, NRDC’s International Climate Policy Director put it, delaying renewable energy production is “…not just a threat to the thousands of new jobs being created by the renewable energy industry, but also a threat to our health, our environment and our planet.”

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Photo Credit: John Womack (littlejohn)


Harshiita Sharma
Harshita Sharma5 years ago

Thank you for a great article

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago


Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago


Barbara DeFratis
Barbara DeFratis5 years ago

"Would you install solar panels on your roof?"
IF I could I would LOVE to, but--BUT I live in a condominium development where individually is against the bi-laws. I am hoping and praying to find a way to make solar power and wind power the norm, but how I have no idea and am one of the newer residents, here.

ii q.
g d c5 years ago


nancy d.
nancy B5 years ago

We know who the 1% is!!!!

Joan Earnshaw
Joan Earnshaw5 years ago

The Southwest should be leading the nation in producing renewable energy because we have so many days of sunshine. However, big oil controls a lot of what goes on here, and much of the oil comes from here. We need to break out of the mold.

Arild Warud

Thanks for telling it like it is.

Danielle S.
dani T5 years ago

Continue educating us on renewable energy. We don't see the immediate effects of dirty energy in our daily lives, and therefore are not concerned for the future. We all need to make changes now and the best way is to stay after our policy makers to take that important step to start these changes.

Veronique L.
Veronique L5 years ago

Thanks for posting!