There’s no sense in sugar-coating it: the world is facing an epic environmental challenge as our planet breaks temperature records thanks to heavy emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping pollutants.
Which is why it’s so incredibly heartening – despite at least one superpower looking the other way – to see the dramatic gains being made in renewable energy.
Here are just a few of this year’s honour roll, each of which gives us hope for a cleaner, better, sustainable tomorrow.
1. Most of Earth could be powered by renewables by 2050
It might go beyond what the Paris climate agreement calls for, but a recent analysis of the world’s renewable roadmap estimates that by mid-century, some three-quarters of the world’s countries could be powered entirely by renewable energy sources.
That’s some 139 countries powered 100 percent by wind, water, and solar in just a little over three decades – one heck of a target to aim for.
2. China’s Qinghai Province runs on renewables for a whole week
China gets a bad rap on environmental issues a lot of the time, courtesy of its massive industrial sector and hugely populated (and smog-ridden) mega cities.
But China is also one of the biggest investors in renewable energy, as evidenced by its ability to keep the lights on for 5 million citizens in Qinghai Province for a whole week in June solely on green energy.
3. It’s always sunny in California
Donald Trump may not be on board with renewables, but that doesn’t mean the world’s sixth largest economy has to follow suit.
Case in point: back in May, California smashed a new renewables record, with its largest grid getting 67.2 percent of its energy from renewables – and when you throw in hydropower, the total went higher as 80 percent.
4. India begins to turn away from coal
Another of the world’s fastest-moving mega economies, India, also has a so-so track record on the environment, but as the renewables market develops, this massive nation is embracing it.
5. Costa Rica generated electricity for 300 days without burning fossil fuels
For a nation comprised of some 5 million people, it’s a pretty impressive feat – the Central American country announced in November that 100 percent of its electricity generation ran on renewables for a whopping 300 days, breaking their previous record.
Just in January, news broke that Costa Rica ran solely on renewable energy for 250 days of 2016, and depended on renewables for 98.12 percent of its electricity needs over the course of the year. Amazing.
6. Germany repurposes an old coal mine into a renewables energy battery
As the world moves to cleaner power sources, massive amounts of coal industry infrastructure still lying around don’t necessarily have to be forgotten.
For its part, Germany is adopting a recycling mindset, announcing plans to turn one of its old coal mines in the country’s north-west into a giant battery station for storing hydroelectric power – with some 400,000 homes set to benefit.
7. China builds a solar farm shaped like a giant panda
As the great Doc Emmett Brown might say, if you’re going to build a massive 248-acre solar farm, why not do it with some style?
Adopting this thinking in the best possible way, China up and built a huge panda-shaped solar facility in Datong that its makers say will be able to produce 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of solar energy in 25 years.
The best bit? More panda power stations are in the pipeline.