U.S. production of renewable energy has increased by more than 300% in the past decade, but the nation still lags far behind Europe and Indonesia and is only slightly ahead of Mexico in the percentage of electricity it gets from renewable sources, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
European countries, led by Germany, get more of their electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources than any other region in the world, NRDC's global renewable energy scorecard shows.
The U.S. got about 2.7% of its electricity from renewables in 2011, making it No. 7 among G-20 member countries. Moreover, some smaller, non-G-20 countries – such as Spain, New Zealand and Iceland – get more than 15% of their energy from renewable sources.
Favorable governmental policies and strong private-sector investments have helped to increase the availability of renewable energy in the U.S. and elsewhere, notes Jake Schmidt, NRDC's international climate policy director.
"Unfortunately, the very policies that have increased our renewable energy supplies and reduced our dependence on dirty fossil fuels are now under fire in the United States and elsewhere," he says. "That's not just a threat to the thousands of new jobs being created by the renewable energy industry, but also a threat to our health, our environment and our planet."