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Renewable energy is having another stellar year. Solar is now the fastest growing source of renewable energy after a decade of record growth, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Wind and solar continue to flourish, and nascent technologies such as offshore wind and algae-based biofuel are also gaining momentum.
The International Energy Agency recently announced two exciting goals for clean energy: by 2020, 26 percent of the world’s energy will be generated by renewable sources and renewables will overtake coal as the world’s largest power source in the 2030s.
While many countries continue to drag their feet on reducing emissions, individual cities are taking the lead and setting ambitious renewable energy targets. Some have already made the transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
Here are the four U.S. cities that have gone 100 percent renewable:
Earlier this year, Burlington, Vermont became the first U.S. city (population: 42,000) of any decent size to run entirely on renewable energy. The city runs on a mix of biomass, hydroelectric, solar and wind. Erika J Mitchell / Shutterstock.com
When Greensburg, Kansas was flattened by an EF5 tornado in 2007, the city decided to go green in rebuilding. Though Greensburg made the move before Burlington, it only has a population of 800. Still, its efforts have been impressive. LEED Platinum is the standard for all new municipal buildings. The city also installed a 12.5 megawatt wind farm that supplies enough electricity to power every house, business and municipal building in the town—and then some, according to Rocky Mountain Institute. Photo credit: Joah Bussert/Greensburg GreenTown
Aspen, Colorado—a skiing mecca with a year-round population of 7,000—is the latest U.S. city to make the switch to 100 percent renewable energy. The posh mountain town has established itself as a leader in environmental stewardship with a broader strategy to reduce both operational and community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2004 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 2004 levels by 2050. Oscity / Shutterstock.com
Kodiak Island (pop. 15,000) in southern Alaska, the second-largest island in the U.S., is now 99.7 percent renewably powered by wind and hydro. While it's not 100 percent, it's pretty damn close. Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Institute
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