A global explosion of renewable energy, which the media in the United States often does not speak of, is outlined at “Revolution Greens: The energy [r]evolution has begun”. Renewable energy, conservation and efficiency can supply our energy needs.
Amory Lovins describes the potential of wind and solar power, that they are as reliable as fossil fuel and nuclear plants, they’re alright to supply low cost electricity, the problems with the nuclear industry model. See video of Lovins discussing energy choices here.
Lovins also discusses renewable energy successes such as Portugal which supplied 70% of electricity from renewable sources in the first quarter of 2013. Germany closed 8 nuclear reactors and replaced the power with renewables and its industry is paying the same in real terms per kilowatt hours as it did in 1978. Denmark provided 41% of its electricity from renewables in 2012, with 30% being supplied by wind. The transcript further mentions renewable energy development in the United States.
On June 1, 2013 The Renewables Club was announced by representatives from Germany, China, Great Britain, France, India and five other countries presenting 40% of the world’s population. The announcement of the Club noted its important goal: a worldwide transformation of the energy system.
A report from the International Energy Agency predicts that global power generation from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources will exceed that of gas and be twice that of nuclear by 2016. See press release here for more information.
Europe’s industrial powerhouse, Germany, adopted a strong feed-in-tariff some twelve years ago. In 2013 26% of the electricity is produced from renewables. 390,000 people are currently employed in clean energy technology in Germany. This would translate into more than 1,500,000 jobs in the United States. In 2010, €29 billion euros (about $41 billion) was invested in German clean energy. The country’s goal is to produce 35% of their electricity from renewables by 2020 and 80% by 2050. At present 40% of Germany’s renewable energy comes from wind power and 16% from solar (read official explanation of Germany's energy transition here). More than 50% of Germany’s renewable energy is produced by individuals and farmers (read more about this here). Public support for renewable energy is high in Germany, and over 90% of the population sees growth of renewables as important. Bloomberg Business magazine has written about the lessons the US could learn from Germany.
Germany’s record-breaking renewables growth have pushed coal plants to close. The threat to the nuclear, coal and gas industries has created a propaganda backlash, which will be discussed later.
- Ontario, Canada
Ontario, Canada is another example of how renewable energy can succeed, and be attacked for its success. In 2009 the Province of Ontario adopted a CLEAN Contract program based on their version of the feed-in-tariff, also known as the Green Energy and Jobs Act.
The purpose of the law was to close Ontario’s coal plants and replace their electricity with renewable energy. The programs goal of closing the Province’s coal plants will be reached in about one year. The program created 31,000 jobs, and one in seven Ontario farmers are earning revenue from the program. Micro-FITs have been hugely successful. But the Ontario Power Authority has been slow in transmitting renewable power. And prolonged struggles with defenders of fossil fuel and nuclear energy have been hard fought.
Japan introduced a Feed-in-Tariff in 2012 in a concentrated effort to replace its nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster meant to stimulate rapid growth, the program resulted in shipments of 2.47 gigawatts (GW) of solar cells and modules in 2012. In early 2013 the Japanese government was able to reduce the initial rates paid for solar energy contracts by 10% and still see productive growth. Japan is expected to surpass the German and US solar installation rates in 2013. Japan is also utilizing floating offshore wind turbines to permit installation off its deep water coast (read more here).
- United Kingdom
Introducing a Feed-in-Tariff program in 2010, Great Britain has seen the installation of 379,000 solar installations with total generating capacity of almost 1800 megawatts. See here for more info.
Britain is serious about offshore wind power. Its 2013 wind power capacity is 10 gigawatts (GW) or 10,000 megawatts (MW).