Renewable Energy’s Record Breakers

Germany’s northernmost, and windiest, state Schleswig-Holstein which borders Denmark and the North and Baltic Seas recently announced it is set to generate all of its electricity from renewable energy in 2014 and also has set the target of generating 300% of its electricity needs from renewables in the coming years. This is off the back of Germany shattering three solar records and also setting a new overall renewables record earlier this year with 74% clean energy use.

Over the past eight years Schleswig-Holstein has gone from producing around 30% of its energy from wind power to 100%, a significant achievement in a relatively short space of time. It is the home to more than two hundred businesses in the renewable energy wind sector with over 7,000 people employed in the industry.  In total wind power in Germany provides over 100,000 jobs and that is a figure expected to increase as the country continues to phase out its dependence on nuclear energy and move towards renewables.

As Schleswig-Holstein aims to become the first of Germany’s states to pass the 300% renewables mark, a Bavarian village already comfortably blew past that milestone in 2011. Wildpoldsried produced a massive 321% of its electricity from renewable energy, generating €4m (US $5.7 million) in revenue by selling it back to the national grid.

In the USA records were also being broken as recently inTexas, the nation’s largest wind power producer, a major milestone was achieved in March when according to a new Energy Information Administration report it produced more wind power in a given moment than ever before.

The Lone Star State hit “peak wind” on March 26 when the state’s wind farms produced 10,296 megawatts of electricity. This meant that wind turbines provided enough electricity to supply power for 29 percent of the total electricity load of the state’s main power grid.

“Texas leads the nation in wind capacity, more than double the next state (California), so it’s safe to say that no other state has come close so far,” EIA industry economist April Lee said. “The recent peak is generally indicative of the increasing amount of wind capacity across the United States and the need for grid operators to manage growing volumes of wind power on their systems.”

Texas has more than 12 gigawatts of total wind power capacity, but up until March this year its turbines have never produced that much electricity at any given moment. The March 26 output record beat a record set the previous week by about 600 megawatts. Both of those blew past the state’s previous wind power record set in May 2013, when output reached 9,674 megawatts (one megawatt of wind power is enough energy to provide electricity to roughly 300 homes).

One of the reasons Texas is seeing growth in consumption of wind power is the completion of major renewable energy transmission line projects in 2013.

Since 2008, when the Texas Legislature named ten companies to complete the transmission projects by the end of last year as part of the creation of competitive renewable energy zones, approximately 3,600 miles of 345 kilovolt power lines were built connecting West Texas renewable power source with eastern Texas cities.

Wind power production in Texas is expected to increase as new wind farms come online. More than 7,000 megawatts of wind capacity were under construction at the end of 2013, and many of those wind farms are expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Finally moving onto the southern hemisphere now and Australians overwhelmingly want the renewable energy target to be retained or even increased, as the current government considers abolishing the incentive for new renewable projects.

Polling for the Climate Institute showed 72% of Australians want to keep or expand the renewable energy target (RET), which requires that 20% of energy is sourced from renewables by 2020.

This is slightly higher than the 69% who said they wanted the RET maintained or increased when the same questions were posed in last year’s poll, despite a strong campaign over the past year by industry groups and government backbenchers arguing that the RET was increasing power prices.

Respondents were then told “opponents of the scheme say the RET is a subsidy that drives up electricity bills, while supporters say it has helped create jobs and has tripled Australia’s wind and solar energy since 2009”. 71% still thought it should remain at its current level, 20%, or be increased, even after hearing the arguments. Support was especially high among women, with only 7% wanting the RET decreased or abolished.

The poll also found that 76% of people think state governments should do more to provide incentives to renewable energy. Again the strongest support came from women (82%).

The poll was conducted for the Climate Institute by JWS research from May 16-20. The sample size was 1,145 and the margin of error is 2.9%.

It will come as no surprise that Germany is breaking records for Renewable Energy production. The country has led the way for several years in the development of the technology required for renewable energy projects and also the way the government promotes the generation of the energy.

The USA maybe a little more behind overall, but is making giant strides in moving the industry forward and has the necessary resources to become the world leader in renewable energy. Public opinion in the US may be split but the government is continuing to move forward with positive policies and infrastructure investment.

Australia has also made good progress in its renewable energy industry and public opinion, as demonstrated above, is very much behind it however the government does look like it is moving away from a positive position to more neutral one.

It is our belief that with continued public support governments and other responsible bodies will continue to promote and assist the renewable energy industries around the world. We can all make a difference no matter how little you perceive it to be so make your voice heard and your message clear.

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