First-ever Terawatt-Hours Tally of Renewable Energy Released

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Renewable energy generated between 665 and 673 terawatt-hours of electricity in the EU in 2010. With total energy consumption of between 3,115  and 3,175 terawatt-hours, this means that clean energy supplied about 21% of all the EU electricity used in 2010.

In an effective rebuttal to those who constantly pooh-pooh renewable energy capacity as “just nameplate capacity”, the figures were released in terawatt-hours of electricity actually produced and consumed in a year, since power generation is the bottom line for any form of electricity.

This – yet more – evidence of the success of policy that enforces the addition of renewable power in the EU was published in a story by the European Wind Energy Association last week, based on data on renewable energy generation collected over several years.

The EU’s 2004 Renewable Electricity Directive set a target of getting 21% electricity from renewable sources by 2010, and in a sign that Kyoto succeeded, it met the target.

Originally, the target had been set for 20% by 2020, but in 2004, the date was moved closer because it was being so speedily accomplished ahead of time, once begun. Indeed, by 2005, the EU already had 13% renewable energy production.

The report extrapolated that if renewable electricity production in the EU continued to grow at the same rate as it did from 2005 to 2010 it would account for over 36% of electricity produced in 2020 and over 50% in 2030.

(With this data on hand, it is no wonder the EU approached the Durban climate talks at the end of last year with the offer to raise their target to 30% by 2020. They are easily on track to exceed that, even with wriggle room for any growth-slowing recessions.)

The tally shows that if the whole world followed its example, we could beat dangerous climate change. Simply reducing emissions 2% a year gets us to the 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 that underpins climate legislation. And building renewable energy at the pace of the EU will do it – increasing renewable energy reduces carbon emissions.

Despite the hysteria whipped up about last year’s announcement of the EU’s one-time “largest ever in a single year!” 2.4% rise in greenhouse gas emissions – the context of that single year rise has been little-noticed.

But that one year rise came after a much larger 7 % drop in emissions the previous year, so – by adding the two years and dividing by two, to get the average of both years – you find that there was actually a drop in greenhouse gas emissions of 3.5% a year, averaged over both years. That drop is almost twice as fast as is needed.


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