Portugal, Germany Kick Butt in Renewables

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Germany made headlines earlier this month when it produced such an abundance of renewable energy in one day that it had to pay its consumer base to use it. Now, Portugal follows suit with its own energy achievement: the country powered its lights for four straight days using only solar, wind, and hydro supply.

Three years ago, Portugal owed a third of its energy supply to nuclear, and it derived as much as half of its net energy from burning fossil fuels. Since then, the country has made a firm commitment to realigning its priorities and pursuing renewable alternatives.

“These data show that Portugal can be more ambitious in a transition to a net consumption of electricity from 100 percent renewable, with huge reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming and consequently climate change,” Portuguese NGO Zero said in a statement.

These reports are not the first of their kind in Europe. On an especially blustery day last year, Denmark generated enough wind power to cover 100 percent of its energy demands, with a 40 percent surplus that it exported to Germany, Norway, and Sweden.

“This is a significant achievement for a European country, but what seems extraordinary today will be commonplace in Europe in just a few years,” SolarPower Europe CEO James Watson told The Guardian. “The energy transition process is gathering momentum and records such as this will continue to be set and broken across Europe.”

While Germany’s pledge to run solely on renewable energy by 2050 may seem outlandish from an American perspective, these consecutive reports of bountiful renewable supply indicate a promising future for this ambition.

“It shows that a world powered 100 percent by renewable energy is no fantasy,” Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association, told The Guardian.

If the results emerging from these European nations are any indication, the transition from a system highly reliant on fossil fuel may actually be less complicated than we believe.

Get your sh*t together, America. We can do it, too.