I’ve been looking at the feasibility of wind and solar for supplying a much larger percentage of renewable energy worldwide and in the U.S. There’s an interesting table on Wikipedia of a list of countries, their renewable energy use divided up into various categories, and % total generation. It’s possible to sort each column in order to better determine what’s going on.
One thing that’s interesting to me is that of the countries (as of the date of data collected in the table) that supply 100% of their energy with renewable sources, most of that is supplied by hydro, and in Iceland’s case, geothermal as well. My understanding is that hydro could tend to be disruptive to the local environment and of course would require water sources that can be dammed, and that geothermal is best suited to areas with a lot of volcanic activity, although I could be wrong. So I don’t know that these are really viable options for more countries.
Sorting the table by wind power, the U.S. comes out on top with Germany second, but as of 2009 the U.S. only generated 10% with renewable sources, and Germany 20% as of 2011. Germany also generates 20 times more electricity with solar power.
It is interesting to compare the U.S. and Germany given that Germany is so much smaller and doesn’t really have notable features that would make it more ideal for wind and solar generation over the U.S. To me, this bodes well for the U.S. because it shows that we have the ability to really improve and generate much more of our electricity with these sources.
Germany is 137,800 square miles and the continental U.S. is 3,119,885 square miles, 23 times larger than Germany. So I’m thinking that we have the capacity to supply most of our electricity if not all with renewable sources using Germany’s 2011 installed capacity as an example, and going by land area alone.