IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven
A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), stating that global power generation from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources will exceed that of gas and be twice that of nuclear by 2016, is receiving widespread news coverage.
Renewable power is expected to increase by 40% in the next five years, according to the IEA’s second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report launched last Wednesday in New York.
According to the report, renewables are now the fastest-growing power generation sector and will make up almost a quarter of the global power mix by 2018, up from an estimated 20% in 2011.
In addition, the report found that the share of non-hydro sources such as wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal in total power generation will double, reaching 8% by 2018, up from 4% in 2011 and just 2% in 2006.
“As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said as she presented the report at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum.
Government and financial institutions around the world must pledge to invest at least US$40 billion (€30.6 billion) in renewable energy over the next 12 months as a way of fighting climate change, according to a campaign launched this week by the environmental NGO the WWF.
“We are running out of time,” says Jim Leape, director general of WWF International, launching the campaign Seize Your Power. “We know that if we continue to rely on fossil fuels we will face a future of worsening air pollution and an increasingly inhospitable climate. It is now our collective responsibility to commit to the future we want. We call on political and financial decision-makers to seize their power to make the switch to clean and sustainable renewable energy and end the inertia of coal, oil and gas.”
Anyone and everyone can sign the pledge on the WWF’s website to encourage governments and financial institutions to put their money where their mouth is, and promise greater funds for wind, solar and water power. The campaign will run in 20 countries around the world and be targeted at public finance, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.
It seems that energy policy has never been such a hot topic – at least judging by the huge media attention it is now receiving.
Today, and this week generally, has seen a blizzard of European media coverage of energy policy – with wildly differing perspectives, and arguably also in quality of reasoning.
Today in Germany, Environment Minister Peter Altmeier is strongly criticised in the heavyweight Suddeutsche Zeitung for “misleading” statements on the cost of renewables. It is claimed he exaggerates the cost and is not helping his country’s transition from nuclear to renewable energy. Suddeutsche Zeitung accuses the Minister of creating uncertainty and fear.
In the UK the Daily Telegraph reports that an MEP has published a book attacking wind energy in Scotland. The newspaper highlights claims in the book about the amount of rental income gained by, often aristocratic, landowners from wind turbines erected on their land. The Times reported that “the MEP’s views remain outside the political mainstream north and south of the border”.
Delphine Batho, French Minister for Ecology
The French minister for ecology has promised her government will set down stable rules for renewable energies as the wind industry demands action to save it from the “critical” state is has been in since May when France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule whether the country’s premium purchase price for onshore wind constituted state aid.
“We will define stable rules for renewable energies for the duration of the government’s five-year mandate,” says Delphine Batho in the September issue of the French sustainable development magazine Terra Eco. She admits that “in the past few years, the incessant changes to rules, purchase prices, moratoriums etc., have profoundly destabilised” the industry. These “rules” are expected to be discussed at a conference on the environment to be hosted by the government on 14-15 September.
North Hoyle offshore wind farm
While this blog frequently focusses on wind power reporting in national-level newspapers, the regional-level or local newspaper does not get as much attention as it perhaps merits.
Last month I was in North Wales – a coastline which is home to the UK’s first large scale offshore wind farm called North Hoyle. It currently has one other operating offshore wind farm – Rhyl Flats, and a massive development is underway further out to sea at Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm which, when completed in 2013, is set to provide electricity to cover nearly one-third of homes in Wales.
There is, of course, local opposition. On this particular stretch of coastline the opposition group is called Save Our Scenery – slightly ironic given that the new offshore farm is 18 km offshore and will be frequently out of vision thanks to the often dense banks of Welsh cloud.