Worldwide Producers of Renewable Energy
Alternative energy is widely used around the world offering both economic and environmental benefits. The type of energy produced often depends on local conditions, environmental concerns and funding.
Biggest producers of alternative energy
The biggest producers of alternative energy are China and the USA, although the biggest producer relative to GDP is Denmark. Germany is often touted as the world’s first renewable energy economy as it is the only nation with a mature and developed economy aiming to switch over to 100% green technologies. Many companies claim to be the biggest renewable energy firms in the world putting the title in dispute. Leading renewable energy companies include First Solar, Gamesa, GE Energy, Q-Cells, Sharp Solar, Siemens, SunOpta, Suntech, and Vestas.
Alternative energy exporters
Many countries are looking to cash-in on growth in renewable energy technologies, with both the US and China competing for the title of biggest producers of green tech - hardly surprising given both countries are net exporters of many goods. South Korea is fast-becoming one of Asia’s leading renewable energy exporters, buoyed by strong government support for the sector.
Few countries import renewable energy. In cases where this does take place, it is difficult to calculate because energy is usually incorporated into national grids.
Biggest corporate users of alternative energy
In June 2011, renewable energy firm Vestasand media company Bloomberg launched a global Corporate Renewable Energy Index (CREX) based on a survey of the 1000 biggest companies by market capitalisation. It lists those companies using the most energy from renewable sources.
The companies using the most alternative energy worldwide are:
- Kohl’s Corporation
- Whole Foods Market Inc.
- Toronto-Dominion Bank
Alternative energy production by region
According to AltEnergyMag.com, the Asia pacific region is strongly positioned to become the leading producer of alternative energy worldwide, with production driven by green tech leaders China, Australia, Japan and South Korea. Until now, the largest source of renewable energy has been hydroelectric; China’s Three Gorges Dam and Korea’s Hwacheon Dam amongst the most productive in the world. This looks set to change due to an increasing focus on wind power. Australia, India Japan and China are set to add 57,400 MW of additional wind capacity during 2008-15representing a 47.4% increase over the total world wind capacity in 2008 (see graph).
Whilst the USA can claim to be one of the leading producers of alternative energy in terms of tetra watt hours per year (twh/yr), this must be balanced with the acceptance it is the leading consumer of all types of energy including those generated from fossil fuels. The continent is also well-equipped in terms of resources to exploit renewable energy construction. It has the ‘hot rocks’ necessary for geothermal plants, the mountainous rivers required for hydroelectric and even the exposed plains required for wind power. It is no coincidence the USA is home to the world’s biggest wind farm. North America can also claim to be centres of leading green tech innovation. Canada ranks in the top ten for renewable energy investment while American firms top the corporate renewable energy index (CREX) in spite of limited consumer pressure.
According to the International Energy Agency,in 2009 renewable energies in Latin America accounted for 29% of total energy production – an impressive figure when compared with the 5.7% average in OECD countries. However, Latin America suffers from a lack of diversity in the renewable sector. The vast majority of renewable energy comes from two sources – hydroelectricity (62%) and biofuels (36%) – which do not allow for big future expansions. Other forms of renewable energy make up a fraction of total energy production (1.4%). All countries have abundant solar, wind and ocean resources region are blessed with abundant energy resources.
Combined, the countries of the European Union are number two leaders in the global application of renewable energy. The continent’s renewable energy sector is also particularly diverse, incorporating solar, wind, tidal, wave and geothermal projects. However, there are great discrepancies between different countries, with Germany producing a disproportionate volume of renewable energy whilst others lag behind.
Africa is a popular location for the application of renewable energy forms. A recent survey suggested if 0.3% of its surface was covered in solar panels, it would be able to produce enough energy to power the European Union – an area already accounted for by uninhabitable desert. At the same time, as much of Africa’s human population currently live in dispersed rural areas, localised renewable energy sources are one of the only ways to provide all habitations with electrification. Current technologies are often prohibitively expensive for developing nations and finance for big projects remains an issue in spite of government subsidies and investment. Nonetheless, several large projects exist – Rwanda has built a 250kw grid-linked solar power station at Kigali SolaireKoudia Al Baida Farm in Morocco is the largest wind farm in the continent.
Central Asia (incl. Russia) and the Middle East
Renewable energy policy in Central Asia and Russia has tended to focus on hydroelectric practices. Russia is the fifth largest alternative energy producer in the world, but drops to 56th place if hydroelectricity is not taken into account. Central Asia is largely in the same position – damming of the Amu Darya river there has allowed a great deal of alternative energy to be created but has also created one of the world’s major ‘alternative energy conflicts’ States upstream that benefit from the dam have provoked outrage downstream as the river no longerflows properly creating drought and environmental problems. Both countries have very large reserves of natural gas enjoying ‘energy security’ many (particularly European) states turning to renewable energy do not have. The situation is similar in the Middle East, where only 0.7% of the region’s energy comes from renewable sources. Its vast oil wealth results in little investment in green tech.Some of these states have begun to embrace alternative energy – the Russian government has plans for 4.5% of the countries’ energy to come from non-renewable sources.
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