Eppur si muove! - Energy Transition in motion

Today I will share a bunch of good news with you. In fact, I have so many good news, that most of you will be reluctant to stop reading this text. Energy transition is a new concept that we use to say - switch to clean energy, smart and responsible energy management. In practice, this means - use of renewable energy sources and significantly improved energy efficiency. Renewable sources are those that are naturally renewed in nature - sun, wind, water energy, biomass, geothermal energy. The point of this blog is that since 2016, the global energy transition seems well underway, with record new additions of installed renewable energy capacity, rapidly falling costs, and the decoupling of economic growth and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global cumulative renewable generation capacity reached 2,006 gigawatts (GW).

In the European Union (and we are the global leader in clean energy), all new capacities are generally up to 90% renewable, which is a great figure. In the United States, this is about 60%, which is still great for a country with current political setting and impossible to imagine until recently. In 2016,around half a million solar panels were practically installed every day! Energy transition is happening, is not it?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is predicting that the expansion of renewable sources will continue to be equally ambitious, with the expectation that new 825 GWs from renewable sources will be built by 2021 - 13 percent more than just a year ago (and IEA is traditionally conservative when it comes to renewable sources), all driven by ambitious national and global policies aiming at increasing energy security and sustainability. Another key indicator is that even a non-subsidized solar power plant with a larger capacity is more competitive (cheaper) than a coal-fired power plant or natural gas, and that new solar projects in new markets (non-OECD countries) are cheaper than wind farms.

Also recently, we read that May 5, 2016 was a historic day in the UK because then for the first time since 1881, no coal was burned to produce electricity. Only three days later, May 8, Germany has reached a new record in several renewable energy sources - thanks to the sunny and windy day, at 1pm around 87 percent of current consumption was covered by renewable energy capacities in the country. At that time, German wind farms, hydroelectric plants and biomass plants were producing 55 GW of electricity, while the consumption was 63 GW. The electricity prices were a few hours negative, which means that consumers were actually paid to use electricity. Most EU countries set goals by 2050 to fully utilize only renewable energy sources, but even Saudi Arabia plans to invest between 30 and 50 billion dollars in renewable sources by 2023.

Of course, the road ahead is still full of challenges and a lot needs to be done to think about 100% renewable energy society. The fact is, however, that this for the first time – seems realistic and possible.

Blogpost and picture submitted by dr.sc. Julije Domac (North - West Croatia Regional Energy Agency) - http://regea.org

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