It’s bad news for Old King Coal, Big Oil and their mates, but smarter renewables are helping to break new ground. The offshore wind industry and concentrated solar power have so far been tried only on a large scale, and in a few pioneer countries. But that is changing fast. Both ways of generating electricity, from wind and sun, were once thought technically feasible but too expensive to compete with fossil fuels. Advances in technology, though, and economies of scale have meant that costs are falling quickly. One key factor in their new success has been that surplus renewable energy can now be stored, either by batteries or heat reservoirs, and can then be used at periods of peak demand. Offshore wind power, pioneered in Denmark in 1991, has now become a major provider of energy in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. Outside Europe China is also a major investor. Altogether 17 countries now have offshore wind, but more than 100 have coastlines where the technology could be deployed, so the potential is enormous. Among the countries now considering large-scale offshore wind farms are Poland and Ireland in Europe, the US and, in the Far East, Taiwan, according to the organisers of a conference on offshore wind technology to be held in November. CSP is making a comeback, largely because it can now guarantee a 24-hour supply by using heat generated during the day to drive turbines at night. Another advantage is that, unlike solar panels which lose efficiency if they get too hot, CSP thrives in such conditions – the hotter the better. This makes the Middle East, where temperatures are getting ever higher as a result of climate change, a huge potential market for CSP. In Europe Spain, with abundant sunshine, has led the way. More recently, across the Straits of Gibraltar Morocco has become a world leader. It has a 40% target for renewable energy by 2020, rising to 52% by 2030, and already has a 160 megawatt CSP plant up and running. Three more are expected to come on line in the next few months.
Climate News Network 9th July 2018 read more »