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Cap And Trade

Published on November 26th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


Cap and Trade Works. EU Replaces Coal Power with Wind Energy

November 26th, 2010 by  

Like every clean energy blog, CleanTechnica hears all the time from the paid trolls from the fossil industry, that Europe is not succeeding in transferring to clean energy, or cutting its carbon emissions (which is done by transferring to clean energy). Cap and trade won’t work, they instruct us – as instructed by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal – because it didn’t work over there.

Only problem is: the facts say different.
They have for some time. Here’s another dollop of evidence this week.

New EU-wide statistics from the EWEA (European Wind Energy Association) show that more wind power capacity was installed last year than any other electricity-generating technology. What’s more, new wind capacity replaced fossil energy.

In 2009 Europe actually decommissioned more coal, nuclear and gas plants than it built.

A whopping 61% of all new power generating capacity added in 2009 was renewable energy.  Of this, 39% of was wind power, followed by bio gas (26%) and solar photovoltaics (16%). Last year is the second year running that renewable energies have accounted for the majority of new investments, with wind power being the leader.

Investment in new European wind farms in 2009 reached €13 billion, including €1.5 billion offshore.  Across the EU, 10,163 MW of wind power capacity was installed in 2009 – a 23% increase compared to 2008 installations – made up of 9,581 MW onshore (up 21% from last year) and 582 MW offshore (up 56% from last year).

Europe signed the Kyoto Accord in 1997, and once 55% of the UN member countries signed on, its trading scheme came into force in 2005, (Russia’s signature was the tipping point). That is when Europe began a cap and trade system – the ETS or European Trading Scheme.

A study in 2009 by the German Marshall Fund found that all participants in the ETS cap and trade had been able to sell their allowances, and that the value of these sales more than funded the cost to replace fossil energy with renewable energies or efficiencies. In the first three years, while US carbon emissions rose, the EU dropped theirs by 300 million metric tons.

Europe’s carbon emissions are even lower than its Kyoto Accord goals.

By mid-2008 (before the economic apocalypse), four nations (France, Greece, Sweden and Britain) had already met the first goal, to reduce emissions by 8% by 2012, having dropped them by 13%.

By mid 2009, the UK had reduced its carbon emissions by 23%, doubling the 2010 goal, according to Reuters at the time. It is simply not true that Europe has not succeeded in meeting the needed goals of the Kyoto Accord. This week brings more evidence. And the one big difference between Europe and us is they have cap and trade that restricts the emission of greenhouse gases.

Image: Clear Village

Related stories:
Five Good Things Cap and Trade has Done for You
Lessons From the German Marshall Fund From EU Cap and Trade
EU Paper Industry Has Cut Carbon Pollution By 42%: Exceeded Kyoto Goals
Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade Will Pay For Itself, CBO Finds

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • John ONeill

    The figures quoted for new renewable energy are capacity, not actual energy supplied. For wind this can be as low as 20% in some areas, and solar in much of Germany is even worse. Note that the four countries stated as meeting their Kyoto obligations include France and Sweden, which derive a large part of their elctricity from nuclear power, but not Denmark or Germany, the poster children for renewables

  • commenter

    you conveniently left out how much the green industry pays the media, not just the fossil industry.

  • Pingback: Carbonfund Tells US “Stay Away From Cancun” – CleanTechnica: Cleantech innovation news and views()

  • Finally some good news out on the green energy front! I do agree with you that it really depends on who you’re talking to. Fossil fuel “trolls” would like to have us believe that alternative energy projects are not making progress at all, not only in the EU, but everywhere. That despite the crucifying gas prices and the harm to the environment, fossil fuels are still the only choice we have. Figures never lie, though. Slowly but surely, green energy’s time will come… with the support of everyone.

  • Ed Swanson

    The Cap and Trade advocates need to recognize that it may work for narrow objectives of limited duration. Large-scale application using casino-like market forces are potentially disruptive, often creating gains for those with an inside track.
    The administrative and oversite costs associated with Cap and Trade performance verification seems to be a negative. But all this seems to be overlooked by the spinmeisters and poorly informed writing heads.

  • Las Vegas Remodeling

    I believe progress is being made, I really don’t care what the oil industry thinks. They are always going to have a derogatory statement, renewable energy is cutting into their market share. We have to stay on this course of weaning ourselves off of oil and gas. We are going to see a more rapid decline of our planet if we don’t.

  • Brian

    This is quite literally a breath of fresh air! Unfortunately here in the states everyone wants a magic bullet solution, a single technology to solve the problem of fossil fuels and that is just unrealistic.
    Once you combine that with combating the vast amount of misinformation that is constantly foisted upon the average tv viewer, suddenly you have a huge problem. People value their view of the ocean more than clean energy (Mass. Offshore windmills) or they complain about the aesthetics of the mountain range being mildly affected (VT and Grandpa’s Ridge windmill initiative) and neither of these counter groups realize that if we do not work to solve this fossil fuelish path we are on, that ocean, those mountains, won’t mean anything as they will be ruined.

  • Yeah, but that’s just facts. Who needs facts when they have Rush Limbaugh’s opinions?

  • harrywr2

    It’s easy to cut carbon emissions. Just offshore your aluminum, steel and cement industries. Of course if everyone did that we would return rather rapidly to the stone age.

  • sola

    The biggest factor in this transformation is that energy production becomes really sustainable, much less vulnerable and much more distributed.

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