It’s generally accepted amongst those who are passionate about renewables that a number of governments have been dragging their feet when it comes to implementing green strategies that see us all being less dependent on fossil fuels. The UK, despite the financial crisis and cut backs, has managed to forge forward but others, who you might expect to embrace new energy producing technologies, have started to ‘cool’ off.
According to Greenpeace, Australia’s investment in renewable technologies has reduced by 70% over the last year. The problem is that with the recent recession, many governments in developed countries have chosen to reassess the need for green energy, something that has discouraged investment and is damaging the industry down under.
It’s not all bad news though.
In the US last year, renewables provided over 12% of the energy mix, putting them on course to meet their targets for reducing carbon emissions by 2020. Meanwhile, the Netherlands have been pushing their innovations along, as many of the Scandinavian countries have done even before the climate change crisis. Their latest offering is the opening of a solar cycle path in Krommenie and it is thought that this may be the first of many if it proves a success.
But the great surge forward in recent times has come from a more unlikely country. Often disparaged for its high carbon emissions, China is starting to move forward at such a rapid pace that it is putting the rest of the world to shame.
China Goes Solar in a Big Way
The major producer of solar panels in the world for the last two years, China has been installing them practically everywhere, on school buildings, factories, on farms and tower blocks. Following on from the climate agreement China undertook with the US this year, the country already has a 20 gigawatt capacity, with more to follow. The plan for the near future is to rush through a total of 8 gigawatts for small rooftop installations.
Not only that, China is beginning to dramatically reduce its reliance on the fossil fuels that have so damaged its carbon footprint in the past. Coal usage is down by 68% since 2010 according to a recent article by Bloomberg.
Is India The Big Worry?
One country that still has an unhealthy fixation on fossil fuels such as coal, is India who have huge energy demands but a generally poor population. They have spent decades mining their resources and recent opinion is that their unwillingness to embrace renewable technologies on the same scale as other countries could cause a major imbalance in the battle to tackle climate change.
Indian politicians have made a commitment to increase India’s coal production from 565 million tonnes to over a billion by 2019 and licences are being given out like candy to anyone who has the technology to mine the countryside. The better news for the country is that the Prime Minister has committed to building a large number of solar power stations in the future. Whether that will help to wean the country off coal is something that remains to be seen.
Germany Goes Non-Nuclear
If you take into account that Germany, for the first time, this year got more energy from renewables than it did from fossil fuels and other sources such as nuclear, we may have passed the point where resistance to green technology is a factor in energy production. Where other countries, including the UK, are still debating the need for nuclear, Germany is expecting to get rid of their entire nuclear capacity by as early as 2022 under the government’s Energiewende plan.
Is Nepal Leading the Way?
More out of necessity than through any local desire to be green, the village of Sikles in Nepal is the only place where the houses are totally powered by renewable energy. That’s because it’s difficult to get to this remote place with electricity cables. They depend largely on 32 micro-hydro generators that feed the population with all the power they need. And the good thing is, they produce enough to feed back to the national grid that can be sold and make a profit for the village.
Whilst the future of renewables is looking rosier by the minute, there is still some way to go until we are all committed to the technology that could provide us with energy independence and help improve the world we live in.
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