Dave Elliott says that, while renewable energy has rapidly progressed over the past decade, more needs to be done to help limit the impact of climate change. “The country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century.” So said former US President Barack Obama in 2009. At the time, renewables such as wind and solar power were just getting off the ground with around 160 GW of wind capacity and just 21 GW of solar photo-voltaics (PV solar) in place worldwide. Since then, the costs of renewables have fallen dramatically – by 76% in the case of PV solar. The boom has been aided by concerns about the impact of climate change as well as by rampant air pollution, particularly in some Asian cities. And the costs continue to fall. Indeed, they are now the cheapest power option in most places. Global renewable energy capacity hit 2351 GW by the end of 2018, accounting for a third of the world’s total power capacity and supplying over 26% of global power. In the UK, the overall share of renewables in power generation has increased to over 33% – a figure that is set to rise as new offshore wind projects come online. The share of renewables in Portugal is over 54% while in Denmark it is near 60% and Sweden has reached 66%. Interestingly, renewable energy accounted for 70% of electricity production in Scotland in 2017.
Physics World 23rd Dec 2019 read more »