The countries leading the way in renewable energy

Wind turbines along mountain ridge (recycle)
Image: Shutterstock

Across the world, countries are facing increasing pressure to reduce the ecological imprint they leave on the planet, slow down climate change, and protect the environment for future generations. So, which countries are leading the way in using renewable energy?

Compare the Market has analysed the energy consumption of 21 countries to reveal which are using the most and least renewable energy sources in their total consumption.

The countries with the highest proportion of renewable energy include:

Rank Country % of renewable energy used
1 Germany 12.74
2 UK 11.95
3 Sweden 10.96
4 Spain 10.17
5 Italy 8.8
6 Brazil 7.35
7 Japan 5.3
8 Turkey 5.25
9 Australia 4.75
10 USA 4.32

Germany leads the world with a renewable energy consumption of 12.74 per cent of its total energy use. This European nation is on an energy revolution aimed at replacing its fossil fuels with wind and solar technology, which scientists agree is pivotal for every country to adopt in order to avoid a climate disaster across the globe. 

In particular, Germany has been working to reduce its coal use, with the first half of 2019 seeing the country use more renewable sources of energy to produce electricity than coal and nuclear power combined–a first for the country. In addition, renewables accounted for 40 per cent of Germany’s electricity consumption in 2018, and more work is being done to continue the rise in renewable energy use. 

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The UK ranks second in its renewable energy use at 11.05 per cent of the country’s total consumption. Wind power has been particularly prevalent, with a new energy record set when wind provided over 40 per cent of the nation’s power.  

The USA ranks at 10th with a renewable energy proportion of less than half that of the UK and nearly three times less that of Germany at 4.32 per cent. South Africa ranks at 15th with even lower renewable use levels at just 2.25 per cent. Other countries with a particularly low consumption include Mexico at 1.65 per cent, South Korea at 1.63 per cent and Russia at 0.04 per cent. And while the likes of Germany and the UK are leading the way, it is critical that these figures continue to rise over the next few years for all countries across the globe.

With the world facing increasing demands to slow down and stop climate change, it is pivotal the adoption of renewable energy continues. A UN report predicts that by 2050 the population will reach a whopping 9.8 billion and by 2100 this will rise further to 11.2 billion. With the increasing number of people living on the planet, the demand for energy will naturally increase, and it is crucial that we are catering for this in an environmentally conscious way that is not damaging to the planet. 

For the developed countries such as the UK and US, it is pivotal to alter the energy they are using to ensure levels remain at a manageable level. In 2018, the UK saw a dramatic decrease of 96 per cent in its use of coal since 1970, showing its push to using different energy sources. 

By 2050, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reveals that renewable power is expected to provide the majority of global power at an impressive 86 per cent. With Germany leading the renewable energy consumption at 12.74 per cent, there is a long way to go for all countries across the globe to meet these targets. 

To see more on the way the world uses renewable and non-renewable energy, and the equivalent cost in crude oil, find the full study here.

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