Random Acts of Renewable Energy

Bug on lamp.Tico Power: Congratulations Costa Rica for starting the year off with 100% emissions-free green electricity.

Using a combination of hydropower, geothermal, and solar the Central American country powers every light bulb, every computer, and every washing machine using only green electricity. Its aim is to become carbon neutral by 2021.

Costa Rica’s neighbours, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, also produce green energy. Nicaragua produces over 80% of its electrical energy from renewables.

Going green with algae in the Caribbean

Bonaire, a Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela, is working towards 100% green electricity by including a biodiesel made from algae, a product of its salt flats, in its wind/solar mix.

For more information on Bonaire’s renewable energy projects see Audubon Magazine.

By 2016, Uruguay aims to have 90% of its electrical energy generated by green technology. In 2014, it ranked number one in Latin America for the fastest growth rate in clean energy investment.

For more information on Latin American Renewable leaders see WWF (WorldWildlifeFund).

Solar energy at the top of the world

Click on any photo to enlarge

In Nepal, the majority of rural populations burn biomass in traditional stoves without proper ventilation. A new approach is catching on: parabolic solar cooking. Villagers place a kettle or pot in the centre of a dish and a short time later you have hot water for cooking and cleaning. Every year, each solar cooker can save over a tonne of firewood.

Nepal’s big southern neighbour, India, is the fifth largest producer of wind energy, but the country’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has its work cut out for it.

Urban air quality is linked to energy production. According to the World Health Organization’s Ambient Air Pollution Report for 2014, 13 of India’s cities are among the top 20 most polluted in the world.

New Delhi was #1, followed by Patna, Gwalior, Raipur; Karachi, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi, in Pakistan; Khormabad, in Iran; and Ahmedabad and Lucknow, also in India, round out the top 10. The World Health Organization looked at 1,600 cites in 91 countries.

For more on India visit New Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment.

To see how Toronto’s air compares with international cities visit Environment Canada.

Africa on the grid

This year, Gigawatt Global’s 8.5 megawatt (MW) solar project at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village  in Rwanda became the first utility-scale solar energy project in East Africa to go online.

The project added 6% capacity to the country’s electric grid. The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village supports Rwanda’s “most vulnerable children orphaned before and after the Rwandan genocide.”

Elsewhere, thanks to its abundant hydropower, little Lesotho is at 75% clean electricity and even sells power to South Africa.


Iceland geothermal plant.Iceland is the world leader in the production of clean renewable energy. Its geothermal power provides the bulk of its energy which is supplemented by hydropower.

In 1930, a Reykjavík school became the city’s first building to be heated using geothermal water. According to Iceland’s National Energy Authority, “Today, almost 90% of Iceland’s houses and buildings are heated by natural hot water.”

By 2020, the European Union hopes to draw one third of its electrical energy from renewable green sources. Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, and Sweden have reached and surpassed their 2020 goals. Several countries like Italy and Spain are on the cusp.

Who’s the biggest investor in renewable energy?

China is the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy. It recognized its environmental sector as one of seven key strategic emerging industries. It has mega wind farms like the ones in Xinjiang and Gansu provinces, which have hundreds of giant turbines.

According to the Global Wind Report for 2014, from the Global Wind Energy Council, worldwide wind power capacity is at 370 GW. China leads the way with 31% of total world wind power, followed by the US at 18%.

Wind farms make strange bedfellows but these cute flyers in Yunnan province are designed for integration in populated areas. The silent and noiseless baby turbines and accompanying solar panels power each individual street lamp.

Our very own neighbourhood solar-powered street lamp is at Northcliffe Parkette, Dufferin and St. Clair:

What’s going on in Canada?

It’s difficult to get a clear understanding of Canada’s renewable energy capacity because there is no national body that keeps track of things.

Simon Fraser University’s Canadian Industrial Energy End-Use Data Analysis Centre, prepared a report for Natural Resources Canada, the first of its kind. From the report: Renewable Energies in Canada 2013:

About 72% of Canada’s known renewable energy capacity is from large (greater than 50 MW) hydroelectric dams. Other renewable capacity includes biomass (15%), wind (8%), small hydroelectric (4%) and solar photovoltaic (1%).
We estimate that renewable energy currently accounts for 11% of Canada’s primary energy production and 67% of its electricity generation in 2013. These estimates depend on assumptions about the capacity factor of different types of renewable energy, which are somewhat uncertain.

For a summary of the report see: DeSMOG Canada. For what’s going on in America see National Resource Research Council.

– Elizabeth Cinello
Photos by Elizabeth Cinello

Read more about Costa Rica’s geothermal power in our article GOING GEOTHERMAL.
This article is an addition to our POWER issue.


I’m reaching out because I saw your recent post Random Acts of Renewable Energy. We at SaveOnEnergy.com recently created an animated info-graphic explaining how Wind Turbines work, and I think it would be a great additional resource for your blog. The link to the resource is: https://www.saveonenergy.com/how-wind-turbines-work/ We would love to have the graphic shared if you find it useful.
Brianna Therkelsen,  Content Director for SaveOnEnergy.com

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