4 countries that are examples in renewable energy systems

Iceland, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Norway are four countries that can already boast of generating all their energy with renewable sources. Although it is true that 100% has not yet been reached during each and every one of the 365 days of the year, it is true that dirty energy sources are already something marginal in these countries. They are the example to follow for the rest of the planet.

There are four nations that constitute the spearhead in the energy transition towards renewable sources. In reality, they have practically completed that transition and have left fossil fuels behind. How has it been possible? In all cases, they are processes that began many years ago and, furthermore, they always had their governments as staunch defenders of this transformation.


Iceland is a country that, above all, consumes a lot of energy per capita, which is quite understandable if you take into account the low temperatures that are recorded throughout the year. Furthermore, it has been a historically poor nation. In fact, until the 1970s it was included in the category of developing countries by the United Nations.

Its economy was always based on agriculture and fishing. And, as for the sources to generate energy, they have always been fossil fuels, fundamentally imported. Therefore, it did not seem like an example of sustainability. And yet, the Icelandic political authorities decided to change course around 1980.

This is how Iceland, with 360,000 inhabitants, radically transformed its conventional energy mix for one based on domestic renewable sources. Renewable energies surpassed 99% of energy production in the 1980s and have continued to do so ever since. Today, all of Iceland's electrical power is generated by hydroelectric and geothermal power.

Without realizing it, the energy was on the island itself and, moreover, free and clean. Volcanoes provide geothermal energy in abundant amounts. And, on the other hand, hydroelectric power is the other most important source of supply.

In Iceland, geothermal energy is used, in addition to generating electricity through large steam turbines, to provide heating for entire cities through centralized urban systems, to melt snow on sidewalks, to heat swimming pools, to supply energy for fish farming, greenhouses and food or cosmetics processing. 95% of the houses in the country are heated with this energy, recalls the Ph.D. in Physics from the Complutense University of Madrid, Ignacio Mártil.

Keep in mind that Iceland is the first country in the world in energy consumption per capita, with 194.2 megawatts per hour. And the first on the planet in electricity consumption per capita, with 54.7.


Uruguay is a country of 3.4 million inhabitants that is setting an example to the world on how to take advantage of clean energy sources. Above all, it takes advantage of the potential of its rivers for hydroelectric generation and, in addition, makes a significant investment effort in this matter, because it dedicates 3% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually to a global plan to reorient energy towards renewable sources. 

As a result of all this, already in 2016, it exceeded 90% of renewable generation and in 2018, it was the first country in South America in electricity production from renewable sources, with 97%. The latest known data from the State Electricity of Uruguay, UTE, are very encouraging as they indicate that 98% of the electricity consumed in the country during the year 2019 came from renewable sources. 55.6% comes from hydroelectric plants, another 33.6% from wind installations, 6% comes from biomass, 2.8% from photovoltaic energy and 2% from solar thermal.

According to UTE, 2019, in addition to being a record year for renewables, was also a record year for total electricity generation (14,000 GWh) and that exported.

Regarding energy exports, almost 3,000 GWh were sold to Brazil and Argentina during the year that has just ended, the equivalent of 21% of Uruguayan electricity demand, a percentage never reached before. Of the total exported, 80% went to Argentina, and the remaining 20% ​​to Brazil.

In 2019, the Government and the UTE company developed all kinds of energy efficiency projects and programs, efficient and sustainable mobility, waste recovery, circular economy and energy communes.

Rural households that did not have access to the electricity grid were also reached. Five pilot electrification projects with off-grid solutions are currently being implemented. These houses, which until now had no electricity, have substantially improved their quality of life.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica, a heavenly country blessed by nature, has 5.5 million inhabitants. Currently, it generates more than 99% of its electricity through five different renewable sources: hydroelectric power (78%), wind power (10%), geothermal power (10%), biomass and solar power (1%).

The main one is, as in the previous case, the hydraulics that, according to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity, ICE, generates 78% of the electricity. This is because its privileged location in the middle of the Caribbean Sea allows it to take advantage of this resource.

Costa Rica has promoted the use of renewable energies since the middle of the last century in order to conserve the environment and free itself from dependence on oil-producing countries.

According to Tabaré Arroyo, author of the study 'Leaders in Clean Energy', this long history has been successful thanks to two key mechanisms that have facilitated the penetration of renewable energies into the energy mix. The first, a specific system of auctions by technology that allowed to increase the contracting of additional capacity. The second, a program that encourages consumers to produce energy by selling excess energy to the grid.

Likewise, Costa Rica has chosen to encourage the purchase of electric cars by eliminating the taxes associated with them. It will also promote the creation of an infrastructure of charging stations throughout the country, trusting that the development of more autonomous and cheaper batteries will do the rest. In addition to optimizing the public transport service thanks to the adoption of an electric train with a capacity for 250,000 people, almost 74 kilometers long and three lines and 42 stations in 15 cantons of the country.


Norway (5 million inhabitants) is the great European benchmark in terms of sustainable energy sources. Since 2018, Norway has approached 100% renewable production throughout the year, and its main source is hydroelectric energy, responsible for more than 96% of the total generated. It was the Norwegian fjords and the energy obtained from the force of the water that started Norway on its successful clean energy path already at the end of the 19th century.

The rest of the supply comes from wind, solar and biofuels, although to a much lesser extent.

Norway is also leading green transport, not only by land, but also by sea (some of the first electric boats operate there) and in less than a decade it has proposed to turn its mobility around, betting on the electric vehicle.

Paradoxically, Norway has achieved a high standard of living thanks to the hydrocarbon industry, a fuel that it tries to bury in the past.

Sustainable tourism definition

Sustainable tourism is tourism that follows the principles of sustainability, minimizing the impact on the environment and local culture, while contributing to generate income and employment for the local population.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines sustainable tourism as tourism that fully takes into account the current and future economic, social and environmental impacts to meet the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and the host communities.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is an international organization created in 1975 that aims to promote tourism. Formally linked to the United Nations since 1976, when it became an executive agency of UNDP. In 1977 an agreement was signed that formalized the collaboration with the United Nations, being a specialized agency of the United Nations system since 2003. It has its headquarters in Madrid (Spain) and has 156 member states.

According to UNWTO, the principles that define sustainable tourism are:

  • The natural and cultural resources are conserved for their continued use in the future, while they report benefits;
  • Tourism development is planned and managed in a way that does not cause serious environmental or socio-cultural problems;
  • The environmental quality is maintained and improved;
  • It seeks to maintain a high level of satisfaction of visitors and the destination retains its prestige and commercial potential; Y
  • The benefits of tourism are widely distributed throughout society.

These characteristics make sustainable tourism a strategic tool in local and national economic development. On the one hand, tourism is a great opportunity in some urban and rural areas, where there are no other alternatives for economic activity. At the same time, as part of the services sector, it offers more opportunities for the emergence of local companies (we must bear in mind that even in the most developed countries, this sector is mainly made up of SMEs). And despite being a sector that requires heavy investments in infrastructure and equipment, it also uses labor intensively, thus offering numerous job and business opportunities, without distinction for men, women and young people.

This trend of tourism called Sustainable Tourism is also supported by UNESCO, who argues that "The development of sustainable tourism must be ecologically sustainable in the long term, economically viable, as well as ethically and socially equitable" (BRESCE, 2009).

Guide to know if the hotel where you stay is sustainable.

Surely you know that sustainability has become an added value in any type of trip. You should also know that there are hotels that, in an effort not to be left behind, are described as 'green' when they are not. But do you know how to detect if the hotel you visit passes the basic standards to be sustainable?

If you want to determine how responsible you are when it comes to environmental responsibility, here are some criteria to determine your credibility.

Its construction is sustainable

Look at the architecture of the place. Many of the new hotels use recycled materials for their construction, such as wood or cotton for interior decoration. Others concentrate on not damaging the space in which they stand, transplanting trees or creating protected spaces. In addition, there are increasingly more structures to absorb natural energy evident in the properties, from solar panels to rainwater collection systems.

It has a system of saving resources
Maintaining the consumption of resources to a minimum is a decisive step in the search for sustainability. For this, hotels often install lights with sensor controls that turn off completely when there is no one in the room. Another tool is to install showers with little pressure to reduce water consumption.

Help the community or the surrounding environment

A sustainable hotel will do everything possible to return something to the environment in which it is located. Some support the local community with jobs or financial assistance to an organization, while others support environmental conservation initiatives. This information is something that you can easily find on the website, or else, of any staff member.

Use ethical products

Another indicator that you should look for is the supply chain that the products used in the hotel follow, from the room amenities to the food. The vast majority of sustainable hotels have adopted the 'farm to table' philosophy, with seasonal menus based on local farming, organic farms and sustainable fishing cycles.

It has an eco-friendly certification

The last indicator, and perhaps the most forceful, is the certification of sustainability, validated by experts in the field who have studied all aspects of the space to evaluate it. Symbol of pride, this is usually announced on the website, as well as at the hotel reception. Look for stamps like Green Key, LEED, Green Leaf or Earth Check among many others.

Sustainable hotels: trends and experiences

Several WorldHotels establishments are working in the line of sustainability and energy efficiency. With their good practices, they contribute to creating unique, locally relevant experiences that are capable of generating benefits in the environment in which they operate.

Sustainable tourism experiences, friendly to the environment, are already part of travelers' expectations, and hotels are no strangers to this reality. In addition, travelers understand sustainability from a more global perspective, which not only covers energy efficiency, respectful practices with the environment, but also integration with the community and the local environment, capable of enhancing the character and authenticity of a destination.

The high-end hotels have been working in this line for years, including the establishments that form part of the WorldHotels network, they have developed innovative ideas and strategies to increase their sustainable practices and to add this commitment to the guests with an original, relevant and memorable approach. .

Urban beekeeping

Beekeeping is finding spaces in urban environments to grow. Bees are more comfortable in cities since higher temperatures ensure a longer flowering period than in the field, which lengthens the feeding period and the production of honey by each bee.

In cities with low levels of pollution, the bees of the city have several alternatives for feeding and are healthier than the colonies in the countryside, weakened by monocultures. For this reason, several hotels recreate natural environments in the city, also getting local products that incorporate the experience of the guests.

The Atrium Hotel Mainz, in Mainz, Germany is home to two colonies of "dark bees", a species declared extinct in Germany in 1975. In this way they not only contribute to the conservation of this species, they also produce homegrown honey that It is part of the culinary offer of the hotel and, in addition, the surrounding farmers are delighted with the pollination of their fruit trees.

Le Plaza Brussels, in Brussels, Belgium has installed three hives on its terrace. The first crop of the hotel weighed 20 kilograms and, since then, it is offered to the clients and members of the hotel team; similar proposal to Hotel Daniel Vienna, in Vienna, Austria, which also has beehives on the seventh floor.

On the roof of the Nordic Hotel Forum in Tallinn, Estonia, there are six beehives of more than 60,000 bees that guests can visit virtually through the web camera that shows the hidden life of bees.

Local and proximity products

The demand for local foods and fresh products continues to rise and hotels are no strangers to this trend: many opt for urban gardens or gardens dedicated to vegetables and herbs that are used in the kitchen of the hotel, or agreements with farms or nearby crops for other raw materials, which allows to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the purchase and distribution of raw materials for the kitchen, using fresher products, and in many cases organic and ecological.

Practices of this type are standardized and recognized through entities such as Green Chefs, to which the head chef of the Hotel Atrium Mainz belongs. This organization is dedicated to promoting the respectful use of food, good management of waste, local purchases and products of proximity. They also defend environmental awareness, low energy consumption, reduction in CO2 emissions and fair working conditions.

Environmentally friendly materials and design

Integrating exteriors and interiors through the design of spaces and the use of local materials is the response of hotel interior architecture to sustainability. The panoramic views, interior waterfalls, vertical gardens and natural light techniques are just some examples that allow guests to get close to nature from the comfort of an interior space, preserving the feeling of being in the middle of nature.

This philosophy has inspired the design of Dorsett Shanghai, in Shanghai, China, a certified ecological hotel located just across from Century Park, the largest park in Shanghai. More than 60% of the rooms have views of the park and, in the interior spaces, plants and local vegetation have a great role.

Another hotel that takes nature within its facilities is the Carlton City Hotel in Singapore, which has green walls and vertical gardens in various parts of the building.

Sustainability was also the most important criterion that guided the Anam project, in Nha Trang, Vietnam. In its design, wood from sustainably cultivated forests was used, and it is the main thread of interior design, which fuses the hotel's facilities with the natural environment that surrounds it.

SMART hotels and energy reduction

Technology not only contributes to enrich the guest experience, it is also an indispensable ally to increase the efficiency of supplies. In addition, many establishments incorporate good practices in the maintenance of their water and air management systems, the monitoring of consumption or the use of more efficient, alternative and renewable energy sources.

The Leopold Hotel Antwerp, in Antwerp, the Netherlands the hotel works with Nanogrid, a system that allows to map the energy consumption of different parts of the hotel, controlling and optimizing the system continuously in order to reduce costs and its environmental impact. In addition, it has incorporated good practices such as efficient lighting and ignition patterns associated with natural light, use of biodegradable cleaning products, among others.

The Caravelle Saigon in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam is the first and only hotel in the country able to recycle its 40,000 cubic meters a year of treated wastewater for use in cooling towers and flushing toilets since 2010. They have also updated its elevators, installing high efficiency motors, have incorporated efficient lighting and digital temperature control systems in all rooms.

The Stamford Plaza Airport Hotel, in Sydney, Australia, produces energy through solar panels and efficient lighting systems, has incorporated more efficient refrigeration and air conditioning systems with less environmental impact.

Waste management

Luxury is no longer synonymous with waste, but a conscious use of resources to achieve a unique and special experience. It is about recycling, reusing, reducing costs and environmental impact without sacrificing the quality of the experience.

Like many Spanish hotels, El Anam, in Vietnam, has put a brake on the use of plastic by phasing out its use and incorporating glass and bamboo as substitutes, a philosophy that they seek to extend beyond the hotel. In addition, its staff contributes to the cleanliness of the beach, uses recycled water to irrigate the gardens of the complex, and works with suppliers to reduce waste and encourage the rational use of environmental resources throughout the value chain.

Commitment of the guest

The success of sustainable initiatives in hotels is greater when guests are part of their implementation, not only explaining the scope of the measures but also inviting them to actively participate in the process.

For example, the Carlton City Hotel in Singapore invites its guests to reduce their ecological footprint and be part of their environmental practices; a similar strategy to the hotels of Marmara Antalya, Marmara Pera, Marmara Sisli, and Marmara Taksim, in Turkey, which also have energy control systems for areas and rooms that are not being used.

Five places to do ecotourism in the Amazon river

If you have the opportunity to organize your holidays without a date limit, the best time to go to the Amazon is perhaps between August and September, because the climate is more pleasant for those who are not used to heat and humidity.

Behind the beach, the colonial cities, the great museums and others, those who visit the Amazon are going to take a trip through nature to recognize its charms, usefulness and know what remains of the indigenous traditions. According to the National System of Cultural Information, the department has 26 indigenous ethnic groups with a population of 47,000 members. It highlights 14 linguistic families among which, the most numerous, are the Tukano, Arawak, Tikuna, Huitoto and Tupi.

What can be done in the Amazon? The first thing is to have the ticket, which according to supply and demand can cost on average about $ 700,000. Once you have purchased the flight you will have to define if you want to stay in the two available municipalities Leticia or Puerto Nariño or if you want to stay in the jungle with the indigenous communities. These two services are offered by the department and its costs with variables.

A lodging in Leticia can cost from $ 17 in hostel format to $ 133 in a houseboat per night. If you already have the reservation for accommodation in the same hotel or in the city you can put together your tourist plans, it is recommended not always take everything planned as the costs vary if you take a plan in the area or from your city of origin.

Next, we present the five most striking options for ecotourism offered by the department to its visitors.

Island of the mmonkeys

The island of the monkeys has a unique attraction and is to enter the habitat of one of the largest communities of monkeys or squirrel monkeys. It is located 35 kilometers from Leticia and is reached by boat on the Amazon River after a 45-minute journey. It is a natural reserve of flora and fauna and the monkeys interact with tourists in a natural way taking into account the proper precautions because you are the one who arrives at your place where the animals live.

Port Nariño

It is the second municipality of the department and its main attraction is that it is a quiet place, a town without cars where all the streets are pedestrian. It offers a variety of restaurants and lodging, as well as a viewpoint where you can see the greatness of the Amazon River. It is located 80 kilometers from Leticia, which is done by boat and is about 30 minutes from the first bordering Peruvian municipality.

Macedonia and Mocagua

The community of Macedonia is home to a good number of Ticuna Indians. When visiting your home you will have the option to see skills for crafts with seeds and wood. In Mocagua, there is another native population that allows interaction with them, who are venturing into lodging ventures of maximum 50 people in their homes. They also offer lunches, canoeing, artisanal fishing and ecological walks.

Amazon World Park

Reserve Tanimboca

This reserve, which is half an hour from Leticia by car, was created in 2003 to conserve part of the jungle with the Huitoto community. In 2004 the first trails were made that lead to a tree called tanimboca, hence the name of the reserve. It offers accommodation in cabins in the trees and has the capacity to host up to 55 people. The cabins cost $ 180,000 per person and the night includes a night walk and breakfast. In addition, it offers extreme sports.