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UK renewable energy industry breaks another record! A look at other achievements across the world

Posted by Shanics Olton on 5 July 2017 at 4:35 pm

Despite lower wind speeds and less rainfall than in 2016, from January to March this year renewable energy contributed a record breaking 26% of the total electricity generated in the UK. Onshore wind accounted for the biggest increase from 6.4 TWh to 7.7 TWh with bioenergy, offshore wind, hydro and solar photovoltaic technologies coming in shortly behind.  

2008 saw the Government’s target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and since then renewable technologies in the UK have been flourishing. The target is linked to the European Union’s wider goal of achieving an 80% carbon reduction in the same year. But whilst our renewable energy sector here in the UK is generating personal record highs, critics are warning that as it stands, we may not meet our target. A study conducted earlier this year by thinktank Green Alliance predicts that investment in renewables will decline by 95% over the next three years. The potential drop is down to the latest scrapping of subsidies for onshore wind alongside the infamous removal of subsidies across the solar power industry in 2015 which had almost left it on its knees. There is also a lot of work to be done for us to meet our EU target of 15% renewable energy generation by 2020 as newly released Government figures show that we still need a further 6.8% increase on top of the current share.

Elsewhere in the EU, Germany continues to strive as a leader in green energy. In the first half of 2017, 35% of their power was generated from renewable technologies – a new green energy record!  Their Renewables Energy Sources Act (EEG) which helps promote sustainable energy consumption by lowering their cost has been championed as a key element in their successful bid to turn Germany green. A novel aspect of the Act is that it is constantly being updated in line with technological and social advancements, the EEG has had iterations in 2000, 2004, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2017. In order to meet their targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, Germany’s plan foresees a removal of their nuclear power industry and a cap on emissions tied to electricity generation. The country also plans on providing 200 million low interest loans to householders to get them installing energy efficient measures.

It’s not just the EU we should be celebrating. Across the North Atlantic, Costa Rica has been making impressive contributions towards tackling climate change by running on 100% renewable electricity for more than 250 days in 2016. Throughout that same year, a massive 98.1% of their electricity was made from carbon neutral energy sources. Costa Rica makes the most of their heavy rainfall and multiple rivers for hydro power generation and also harnesses electricity from wind and geothermal power. The country’s small population accounts for just over 3% of the UK’s but regardless of their size and of their dependence on fossil fuels for their gas and oil consumption, their work in the renewable industry is commendable.

Most surprisingly is China’s major achievement in running an entire region on 100% renewable energy for a whole week last month. Qinghai province (pronounced ch-ih-ng-h-ay (we’re always educating here at Yougen!) provided an astonishing 72% of its energy from hydro dams with the remaining coming from wind and solar to power its 5.8 million inhabitants. This was the first scheme of its kind (hopefully the first of many) for the country and a major achievement since their hosting of last year’s G20 summit which shed light on its previous poor track record on tackling climate change.

Each of these achievements are giant leaps in the right direction towards tackling the threat of climate change and as the topic is high on the agenda for next week’s G20 summit hopefully we can expect to see more countries switching to renewable technologies for their main source of energy.

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of achievements so feel free to comment about any other noteworthy achievements you may know of.

Image credit: Daxis

About the author:

Shanics is a summer intern at the National Energy Foundation and is part way through a Corporate Social Responsibility and International Business Masters.

 She is interested in all areas of sustainability. 

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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