Thursday, April 16, 2015

Europe Moving Towards 100 percent Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has seen steady growth in renewable energy installations in Europe. Here is a summary of the past, present of future of renewable energy in in five leading European nations (Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and the UK):

Denmark

Denmark already got almost 23 percent of its power from renewables and 41 percent of its electricity needs in 2012 and in 2013 the nation derived 30 percent of its electricity needs from renewables. The Danish government has a strategy that includes a long term target of 100% renewable energy by 2050. The nation's power and heat supply to be based on 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2035. Coal will be completely phased out by 2030.

Denmark expects a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 in relation to 1990 (about 34% will come from the energy sector, and 6% from agriculture and transport).

One of the leading municipalities in Denmark is Copenhagen. Powered by offshore wind and heated by geothermal, the city expects to be carbon neutral by 2025. The city is collaborating closely with nearby Malmö, Sweden, which has set similarly cutting-edge goals.

France

France is committed to reducing its reliance on nuclear and increasing its use of cleaner renewable sources of energy. The country wants to reduce its nuclear dependence from 75 percent down to 50 percent. It has already pledged to get 23 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030. However, it is possible for the nation to get all of its electricity from renewables. This ambitious view has been put forth in a report titled, "Is 100% Renewable Energy Possible for France by 2020?." It reviews the renewable energy potential within France and it raises the possibility of having France’s electricity powered by 100 percent renewables.

A more recent report by environment and energy management agency Ademe suggests that France could generate all electricity from renewables by 2050. According to the report wind would supply the majority of this electricity, amounting to an extra 96GW onshore and 10GW offshore, up from around 9GW total today (France added 1GW of onshore wind power in 2014).

This is perfectly feasible says Frederic Lanoe, president of the French Wind Energy Association (FEE). FEE believes that France can quite easily reach 50-60GW in 2030. If just 2-3GW were added each year after that, it would give an extra 40-60GW. "This is not unrealistic," Lanoe states.

Ademe said the costs of going 100 percent renewable would be only slightly greater than the cost of the government's current commitment.

Germany

It is possible for Germany to get 100 per cent of its electricity requirements from renewables by 2050. As part of a policy called "energiewende" (energy transition) policies Germany is embarking on what is known as "de-fossilization". The German government has supported the growth of renewable energy and managed to radically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. In 2013 solar and wind energy production alone were responsible for 17 percent of power generation in Germany. 

The small German town of Feldheim gets all of its electricity from renewables and other big cities are working towards the same goal. Munich is Germany's third largest city and in 2008 it announced its plans to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The city already gets 37 percent of its energy from renewables.

The city of Frankfurt has pledged to have zero carbon emissions by 2050. The city now depends on renewables and it reduced its emissions by 15 percent since 1990 and grew its economy by 50 percent. In 1985 the city became one of the first to launch a comprehensive energy management scheme.

Spain

Spain is an early adopter of renewable energy and a paper titled, "Is 100% Renewable Energy Possible for Spain by 2020?" posits that Spain is theoretically capable of obtaining 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020. Spain is already meeting 35 percent of electricity demand with renewable energy and the installed capacity of renewable energy continues to increase.

UK

Renewable energy keeps growing in the UK and 2014 was no exception. Last year renewable energy output beat nuclear power in the UK. Renewables generated a record 19.2 per cent of UK electricity last year, overtaking nuclear power. Government statistics show renewable electricity generation rose significantly from last year, when it accounted for 14.9 per cent of overall production, and surpassing nuclear on 19 per cent.

By the end of 2014, total renewable electricity capacity was 24.2GW, up a 23 per cent - or 4.5GW - on a year earlier. These installations produced 64.4 terawatt hours (TWh) - an increase of 20 per cent on the 53.7TWh in 2013, with bioenergy up by 24 percent following a second conversion unit at Drax power station, while extra capacity pushed wind generation up 11 per cent. Electricity produced by solar PV saw a 93 per cent increase.

The Isle of Wight, England will soon be entirely powered by renewable energy. 100 percent self-sufficient and renewable by 2020. This involves the installation of 1,300 solar roofs, waste to energy, tidal, wind power and geothermal, as well as a smart grid rollout aimed at conserving energy and matching supply with demand.

Related
Moving Towards 100% Renewables in the US
Renewable Energy in Africa and the Middle East
The ABCs of Latin American Renewable Energy (Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica)
Asian Renewable Energy (China, India Japan, South Korea)
Australia Can Go 100% Renewable Due to Falling Costs
Canada Could Get All of Its Electricity from Renewables
Growth of Renewable Energy in 2015 and Beyond
One of the Best Years Ever for Renewable Energy in 2014
2014 Year End Review: Renewable Energy Achievements
Germany's Renewable Energy Leadership
Why France is a Global Climate Leader

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