The New Norm – 100% Renewable Energy – Part II

With a combination of efficient technology improvements and a rapid decline in renewable manufacturing costs, the world can easily capture all the energy nature has to offer. As we choose renewables over fossil fuels, we in turn nurture the earth.  A symbiotic relationship at its best!

To date, European countries have taken the lead on per capita installments of solar and wind in particular, but emerging leaders are now coming to the forefront, developing countries. A couple sources indicate developing countries investments in renewables actually surpassed that of developed countries in 2015!

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reports the progress of these Champions. China is the largest investor globally employing the most people in the renewable field in any country. Last year Mexico agreed to double its renewable power generation by 2018, focusing on wind power. India is discussing increasing their goals to 40% renewable by 2030. Morocco’s goals are to pursue energy efficiencies reducing their energy consumption by 12% while growing renewable energy sources to 40% of their needs by 2020.  The Philippines plan to double their renewable power to about 50% by 2030. Indonesia has recently passed legislation aimed to grow their renewable from 5% to 25% by 2023. Based on economic capabilities, the countries that led in renewable energy source investments in 2013 were Uruguay, Mauritius, Costa Rica, South Africa and Nicaragua. And in 2014, the countries with the largest investors per national GDP were Burundi, Kenya, Honduras, Jordan and Uruguay.  South Africa is aggressively pursuing solar, collectors now on almost every third roof in the country. Now those are some amazing statistic!

It’s becoming clear, with the significant cost reductions of renewables, clean energy is now within the reach of poorer countries. WWF explains why this is happening.

  1. Renewables offer three to five more jobs per unit of energy generated than fossil fuels. “Renewables overcome erratic, unpredictable and often high, fuel costs, which is useful for oil and gas-importing nations.”
  2. Renewables consume less water compared to coal, nuclear, and shale gas, making it more conducive to drier and water-stressed nations.
  3. Renewables don’t emit conventional air pollution creating healthier air conditions and there is no toxic waste or ash, such as toxic remains from nuclear and coal. Citizens are healthier and save billions in healthcare costs.
  4. Renewables don’t generate global warming gases. The world is in agreement, renewable are critical component of sustainable development.

With all these benefits, it’s no wonder leaders are pursuing renewables world-wide!

100% Clean Renewable Energy – The New Norm!

World-wide countries are pursuing clean renewable energy, glad to reap the economic and health benefits.  This is proving to be the most exciting emerging industry since the IT boom.  China, alone, plans to create thirteen million renewable jobs by 2020. It’s quite inspiring reviewing all the progress; here is a succinct snapshot provided by the Climate Reality Project.

Sweden – This year, the first country to generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewables. They are committed to eliminating fossil fuel usage and are investing in solar, wind, energy storage, smart grids and clean transport.

Costa Rica – 99% of their electricity came from renewables in 2015. They are capitalizing on hydroelectric, geothermal, solar and wind.

Nicaragua – Renewables comprised up to 54 percent of their electricity production in 2015. Their goals are to reach 90 percent by 2020 with an emphasis on wind, solar and geothermal sources.

Scotland – In 2015 wind power met 97 percent of the country’s household electricity needs.

Germany – This country leads the world in solar PV capacity and meets 78 percent of their electricity demand from renewables. An amazing accomplishment, given this country is quite cloudy. When choosing solar panels for our place of business, we chose the best, a German product. That came as no surprise. In 2008 my daughter had the honor of participating in and presenting the Texas A&M project at the world-wide Solar Decathlon competition at our Capitol Mall.  Germany innovation handily won first place.

Uruguay – After less than 10 years of effort, Uruguay now is 95 percent powered by renewables focusing on wind and solar.

Denmark – Given their high winds, they focused on wind turbines, meeting 42% of their electricity needs in 2015.

China – By 2014 China had the most installed wind energy capacity and the second highest installed solar PV capacity. Besides good economics, China knows renewables reduce pollution.  Their citizens will appreciate fewer air quality “red alerts”; perhaps eventually they won’t have to wear face masks. Never to miss a marketing opportunity, they sell face masks in a variety of colors!  While visiting South Korea last year, I found colorful face masks to be quite common. I was told governmental officials frequently alert their citizens when prevailing winds are bringing in toxic Chinese yellow dust.

Morocco – Capitalizing on their sunny skies, they opened the first phase of the largest concentrated solar plant in the world this year.

Kenya – In 2015, geothermal covered 51 percent of their electricity needs. They are currently building one of Africa’s biggest wind farms to cover 20 percent of their electricity needs; combined efforts 71% total.

United States – In 2014, we ranked fifth place on installed solar capacity globally and second place on wind energy capacity. Renewables accounted for about 13 percent of our electricity generation that year. 2015 totals were not listed.

As I’m reviewing the world’s progress, I’m reminded of the wonders of nature and all it has to offer. Windy countries maximize on wind turbines; sunny ones on solar panels.  With the world in agreement we need to phase out fossil fuels, scientists rise to the occasion; clean energy technology improve and products become more affordable!

Common Wealth

I recently read “A Conservationist Manifesto” by Scott Russell Sanders and found it to be quite profound.   He discusses the concept of common wealth, all “natural and cultural goods” we share including “the air, waters, soils, and oceans; outer space; the electromagnetic spectrum; the human gene pool and the diversity of species; language in all its forms, including mathematics and music; knowledge in all its forms, from art to zoology; all manner of artifacts and machines, from stone scrapers to supercomputers; the practical arts such as cooking, building, herding, and farming; the practice of medicine; the body of law, the structures of democratic government, and the traditions of civil liberty; parks, community gardens, state and national forests, wildlife refuges, and protected wilderness areas; museums, libraries, schools, plazas, and other public spaces.”  He argues these are common wealth because “none of us, as individuals or even as nations, could create these goods from scratch, or replace them if they were lost.”

For years the government has favored giveaways including below-cost timber sales in national forests, patenting of organisms, oil drilling in wildlife refuges, subsidies for the nuclear industry and agribusiness, off-shore tax havens for corporations, and waivers of clean air regulations.  Our common wealth became further at risk in 2010 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United.  Now corporations can give anonymous unlimited funds to politicians.

These corporations need consumers so they flood the media with advertising.  According to Sanders, by age 21 the average American has been exposed to 30 million ads.  They convince us “you, the isolated consumer, are the center of the universe; your pleasure, comfort, status, looks, convenience, and distraction are all that matter; you will find happiness and fulfillment through buying this product or service; the entire Earth is a warehouse of raw materials at your service.”  So now the circle is complete – Insatiable consumers take from the common wealth oblivious to the common good.

He suggests we live more lightly.  “We need a dream worthy of grown-ups, one that values simplicity over novelty, conservation over consumption, harmony over competition, community over ego.”

To sum it up, “We are born into the legacy of the common wealth, and we pass it on, either enhanced or diminished, to future generations.”  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Pick up Litter, Use your Voice and Vote wisely.  Future generations will be glad you did.