California, Portugal, Scotland/UK set renewables records in April

Milestones are being reached and records set on an increasingly consistent basis when it comes renewable energy. Now California, Portugal Scotland and the UK are joining Germany and Costa Rica in the renewables records club:

Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm
World’s largest offshore wind farm

To get some idea of how big some of these changes are, think of how London was notorious for its noxious air as recently as the 1970s. Like London of that era, Beijing now holds the dubious distinction of being known for its bad air, but China is turning to solar and England is big on wind.

China has the world’s largest floating solar farm, and a couple of other humongous projects in the top 5 of the world. The Irish Sea between England and Ireland is home to the Walney Extension, the world’s offshore largest wind farm.

 

This graph and info from 2015 shows how far the UK has come

It’s sometimes easy to think that the UK’s lessening of dependence on coal has been a slow evolution. But it is remarkably quick when you think of how dominant the fuel was for  so long.

This graph is from a Carbon Brief article in 2015  that shows in 2014 fully 30% of UK power came from coal. An accompanying article points out that “The UK used 49 million tonnes of coal in 2014, according to Carbon Brief more than a 20 per cent reduction compared to the previous year, and the joint lowest coal use in  records going back to the 1850s.

To go to zero coal use, even for 3 days, is a milestone to be celebrated. No, it hasn’t all been replaced with renewables – gas has played a huge role in reducing coal use – and yes, 3 days isn’t a long time. But it’s a start. Three days, then a week, maybe a month some time soon.

98% of U.S. new generation is solar and wind.

The UK is just a dramatic example of the way renewables are growing around the world and illustrate the momentum being gathered. Now price is starting to play a decisive role in energy decisions.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reported  that 98% of new U.S. electrical generation in January and February came from wind and solar power.

An International Energy Agency (IEA) analysis published in October of last year showed solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy worldwide and renewable energy made up two-thirds of new power added to grids worldwide in 2016.

In January, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) said that Renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020 “This new dynamic signals a significant shift in the energy paradigm,” said IREA’s Director-General Adnan Amin. And when you hear talk of paradigms being shifted, you know you’re on to something! You can read the report »» here

Renewables, especially solar, getting cheaper and cheaper

Shakti-Sthala-Solar-Park

Of course, agencies have their own agendas and biases. So it is refreshing when dollar and investment specialists like Bloomberg and Forbes chime in.

The economics of generating electricity from fossil fuels are deteriorating rapidly as renewable energy technology plunges in costs.Bloomberg announced in late March. Its Solar Energy report from January said “Solar power is now cheaper than coal in many places and in less than a decade is likely to fall below wind and natural gas to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere.

And just a week ago, on April 24, CCCC noted in Forbes that “Hamburg-based Kaiserwetter Energy Asset Management wrote an internal analysis saying that “For the first time in history, the production cost of renewables is lower than that of fossil fuels.”

Images: Field of solar panels: Ryan Searle unsplash
Windmills: Ørsted

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