Wind turbines with grazing sheep in the landscape

More than 100 cities around the world now get more than 70% or more of their total electricity from renewable sources, according to new data from the CDP, a UK-based organisation that was previously known as the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The organisation tracks energy information across 570 cities, analysing electricity usage and sources. Cities included in the project cover every continent, from Europe and the Americas to Asia and Africa.

More than 100 of the cities tracked by the CDP now generate upwards of 70% of their electricity from renewable sources such as hydropower, solar PV and wind.

Of the top 100 cities, 43 generate all of their electricity from renewable sources. These include Basel, Switzerland and Reykjavik, Iceland, both of which have switched entirely to sources of renewable energy for electricity generation over the past decades.

In fact, Reykjavik has made renewable energy such a major priority that the city is working to switch all of its public transportation and cars to renewable fuels by 2040.

The only US city reporting a 100% renewable electricity sourcing rate was Burlington, Vermont, which has made renewable energy one of its top priorities. No UK cities were included in either list (of 100% or 70% renewables users), although efforts such as the UK100 network are aimed at increasing Britain’s investment in renewable energy on a city level.

Switzerland and Iceland featuring heavily in the top cities for renewable energy is unlikely to be much of a surprise, as both countries have an extensive history of committing to reduce carbon emissions at both a governmental and private industry level.

However, many of the world’s most environmentally responsible cities are located in parts of the world many people may not associate with renewable energy.

Of the 43 cities that generated all of their electricity from renewable sources, upwards of 60% were located in Latin America. Hydropower has been a major focus of many Latin American countries over the past decade, including controversial “mega dam” projects.

Despite this, Latin American cities have spent smaller amounts on renewable energy projects over the last year than many other governments. Major centres of renewable energy spending include Europe, where cities have collectively spent $1.7 billion on major projects.

African cities have also increased spending on renewable energy projects, instigating $236 million in new projects in the six months to July of 2017.

In addition to a selection of cities that generate 100% of their electricity from renewables, many mid-sized and large cities now generate more than 70% of their electricity from sources such as wind, solar PV and hydropower.

Major cities in the 70% club include Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada. Smaller and mid-sized cities such as Wellington, New Zealand, Porto, Portugal and Aspen, USA were also featured on the list.

A full list of the CDP’s renewable energy cities can be viewed here. The list was assembled to provide a “comprehensive picture of what cities are doing with regards to renewable energy,” according to CDP director of climate change Nicolette Bartlett.

Elliot Preece