Clean energy smashing records worldwide
- 26 August 2014
LONDON: This summer, figures across the globe show the clean revolution is a constantly progressing reality, as records for renewables continue to be smashed, from Germany to Canada.
One of the leaders of the fast-growing low carbon economy is Europe, where in Germany, for the first time almost one third of all electricity power now comes from renewable energy.
According to a report by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, in the first seven months of the year, Germany's solar and wind power plants increased production respectively by 28% and 19% compared to the same period last year, a combined increment of more than 8 terawatt-hours (TWh).
At the same time, brown and hard coal production dropped 4%, while natural gas fell 25%. Overall, the country's renewable energy sources - solar, wind, hydro and biomass - accounted for approximately 31% of net electricity production, with a total of about 81 TWh.
Image coutesy of Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE, from "Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2014"
The UK's growth is also promising. A recent Government release shows a jump of 43% for renewables compared to the same first three months of last year. In particular, hydro generation rose 78% to a record 2.2 TWh. Wind power also increased dramatically, with onshore increasing by 62% (6.6 TWh) and inshore by 53% (4.4 TWh).
According to RenewableUK, another record was broken on Sunday, when 22% of all UK electricity production was generated by wind with almost 6 megawatts; the same amount of energy needed to power 15 millions houses. This means that during that day, “one out of every five light bulbs in your home was powered using wind energy,” as explained James Murray, BusinessGreen editor, in his blog.
Even warning about renewables’ intermittency issue, James Murray remarks that “something truly remarkable is happening. Renewables are working and are now part of the mainstream, statistically, conceptually, and politically.”
The UK also set a new world record in July, when solar graphene - a superconductor in solar thermal applications - tested in the UK hit a 51% efficiency rate at converting the energy of sunlight into heat, far more than the previous record of 44%.
Image coutesy of Department of Energy & Climate Change, from "Energy trends section 6: renewables"
At the same time, Spain’s grid operator Red Eléctrica de España has announced that in July more than half of all electricity generation came from zero CO2 emission sources - a rise from the previous year of almost 30% - while renewables accounted for nearly 40% of the total.
Image coutesy of Red Eléctrica de España
But Europe can't claim all of the progress made this year. Across the Ocean, on July 24 the Canadian province of Alberta also set a new record of 1,188 MW per hour produced by its wind farm. Last year, IKEA group brought a 46 MW 20-turbine wind farm in the area that will be fully operative by the end of this year.
And across the border, the US Department of Energy just released the Wind Technologies Market Report, showing that even if the sector passed through a tough year, “all signals point to more-robust growth in 2014 and 2015. At the same time, recent declines in wind energy costs and prices and the potential for continued technological advancements have boosted future growth prospects.”
In a recent blog, Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, said the clean revolution is underway globally, but that political will is integral to its success. He writes: "Evidence that the low-carbon economy is booming is all around us. [...] When one in every 142 US jobs last year was in the solar industry and the UK’s green markets are growing faster than the rest of its economy, and emerging economies chose to increase their clean energy investment by 15% in 2013, there can be little doubting the economic power of the alternative.
"National governments need to know that tackling emissions is an investment which will not jeopardize their position in the global market."
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By Ilario D'Amato