Renewable Energy Trends (Renewable Cities Panel)

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I’m getting close to the end of CleanTechnica‘s Renewable Cities Global Learning Forum coverage (see all of our Renewable Cities stories here), but this panel discussion is perhaps one I should have written about at the beginning. It provides a nice rundown of renewable energy trends across the globe.

In this article, following the embedded panel discussion, I’m transcribing some of my favorite quotes from the presentations. Have a look, and have a listen to see what other goodies stand out to you.

From Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada:

  • Last year, enough PV power was installed to power ~21 million homes around the world.

From Harry Lehmann, Head of Division, Environmental Planning and Sustainability Strategies, German Federal Environment Agency:

  • “On the other side, we had building codes and we had changing the minds of the people…. The buildings in the year 1950, or even in the year 1970, needed 500 kWh per square meter in a year. And today, we have so-called plus-energy houses, or passive houses and others which are only using 30 kWh.”

From David Renné, President, International Solar Energy Society:

  • The learning curve for solar has been ~22% drop in price for each doubling of production.

From Marietta Sander, Executive Director, International Geothermal Association:

  • “In Germany alone, more than 230 district heating systems are supported and supplied with geothermal energy.”

From Rob Thornton, President and CEO, International District Energy Association:

  • “About 2/3 of the energy that goes [into the US electricity system], is dumped as waste heat.”
  • “36% of the energy used in the US is waste heat.”
  • “If you look at the energy waste from our power plants, it’s equal to or greater than the total energy consumed in every country on the planet except for three.”

Unfortunately, Rob’s presentation isn’t on the Renewable Cities site.

From Mark Z. Jacobson, Director, Atmosphere and Energy Program, Stanford University:

  • Mark and his team have created 100% renewable energy plans for all 50 US states and for 139 countries.
  • “In 2010, the world power demand for end use for all of these sectors — and that’s after transmission and distribution losses, what people actually use — was about 13 terawatts. It’s expected to go up to 22 terawatts in 2050. But if we do this conversion on a worldwide scale, because of the efficiency of electricity primarily, you get a power demand reduction on the order of 33%. Well, about 6 percentage points of that is due to end-use energy efficiency improvements, and the rest is the efficiency of electricity. And most of that benefit is in transportation — although, you do get it also in power as well, as was just discussed — but… for example, when you have an electric car, the plug-to-wheel efficiency is between 80–86% — so, 80–86% of electricity goes to move the car, the rest is waste heat. With an internal combustion engine, it’s on the order, on average, of about 17–20% tank-to-wheel efficiency, so you have about 80% losses of energy as heat. And, so, you actually reduce your energy demand by a factor of 4–5 by electrifying your transportation fleet. And as a result, the cost of electricity to drive electric cars is on the order of 80 cents/gallon (equivalent) in the United States, compared to about $4 for gasoline — although, that’s changed recently.”
  • “If you go across all sectors, you get about 27% reduction in power demand just from electricity efficiency worldwide. In the US, it’s higher because there’s a higher fraction of transportation.”
  • If we followed these US plans Mark’s teams have created, “we’d eliminate 63,000 air pollution deaths a year that cost $500 billion per year.”

That big segment there is very important for all of you to know and remember, I think. I’ve seen criticism lately of how 100% renewable energy scenarios include a great deal of efficiency improvement — as if we will all have to have the most energy-efficient appliances or work to conserve energy or something. In actuality, simply switching transport and heating to electricity will result in a massive improvement in energy efficiency.

Needless to say, Mark’s presentation is a “must listen” (and check out the slides along the way).

If you heard (or saw) other tidbits you want to highlight, drop them in the comments.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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