RENEWABLES REPORT: The Top Countries for Solar Power Generation
As more of the environment continues to deteriorate and electricity costs rise, more and more people around the world are considering switching to green energy.
One of the forms of green energy that are available today is solar energy. Solar energy can provide great benefits for homeowners and building owners, and it is increasingly being used in many countries.
Five Countries Leading the Way in Solar Energy Adoption:
Germany is the world leader in terms of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, with a total of 7.5 GW installed in 2011. In the same year, it had a PV capacity of 25 GW, and its PV systems produced 18 TWh of electricity, which was about three percent of its total electricity production. According to some experts, solar power may account for up to 25 percent of the country's total electricity generation by 2050.
An excellent feed-in-tariff scheme, wide availability of good PV systems and services, easy financing and a high level of public awareness of solar PV technology are some of the factors that have contributed to Germany's success in solar adoption.
Spain is a country with great PV potential, because it receives more hours of sunshine than most other European countries. The government's focus on establishing a national solar energy industry has made the nation one of the largest solar PV markets in the world. In 2010, the total solar power in the country was about 4 GW, and the amount of solar energy generated was 6.9 TWh, which covered 2.7 percent of the total electricity demand.
Similar to Spain, Italy also gets plenty of sunlight, and it uses a combination of well-segmented feed-in-tariff and net-metering to become one of the top solar countries in the world. It had close to 156,000 PV plants with a total PV capacity of 3.4 GW, and produced 1,905 GWh of solar PV energy in 2011.
Japan has been expanding its solar energy industry since the 1990s, and it is now one of the leading manufacturers and users of solar panels in the world. In 2011, its solar PV installations totaled 4.9 GW, most of which was grid-connected.
The amount of sunshine received in the U.S. is rising every year, and this has provided the ideal condition for the adoption of solar energy. States have implemented various policies to support the use of solar power, resulting in a significant increase in solar PV installations across the country. There are plans in place to construct more large-scale solar power facilities, which will boost solar energy capacity in the coming years.
Financial Benefits of Solar Energy
One of the main reasons why so many households are starting to use solar energy is because of its great financial benefits.
Using solar energy can help households save more than $1,000 on energy costs every year. It also enables them to make some extra money by selling excess energy to utility companies.
Additionally, it can significantly increase the value of a home. Many utility companies are also switching to solar power to save energy and reduce costs.
Efforts are constantly being made to make solar energy affordable to the masses, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes a mainstream energy source.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere