Lingering doubts about the feasibility or reliability of a 100% renewable grid can be laid to rest by a flurry of recent studies and reports showing several jurisdictions around the world “already at or close to 100%,” veteran climate and energy analyst Joe Romm reports in a recent analysis on Resilience.org.
At the national level, “according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are seven countries already at, or very near, 100% renewable power: Iceland (100%), Paraguay (100), Costa Rica (99), Norway (98.5), Austria (80), Brazil (75), and Denmark (69.4),” Romm writes. And at the subnational level, “a new international study, which debunks many myths about renewable energy, notes that many large population regions are ‘at or above 100%’, including Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein regions, New Zealand’s South Island, and Denmark’s Samsø island.”
The story cites the hydro-driven grids in Quebec and British Columbia as being supplied by close to 100% renewable energy.
Looking ahead, Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects “that by 2040, Germany’s grid will see nearly 75% renewable penetration, Mexico will be over 80%, and Brazil and Italy will be over 95%.” And that’s without any special attention to climate change or a post-carbon transition.
“BNEF was not looking at what could theoretically happen by mid-century if countries pushed as hard as required by the Paris climate accord,” Romm stresses. “They were just looking at business as usual over the next two decades.”
A separate study in early May found that Indonesia “has far more than enough pumped hydro storage sites to support a 100% renewable electricity grid.” And in China, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported last summer that Qinghai Province had run entirely on wind, solar, and hydropower for an entire week. That milestone was achieved as “part of a test by the country’s State Grid Corporation to show a post-fossil-fuel future was practical,” Romm notes.
Even U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s 2017 grid reliability study, widely seen as a pretext to bail out the country’s ailing coal and nuclear utilities, identified smart-charging electric vehicles as yet another way to integrate yet more renewable energy into the grid, Romm writes.