Denmark and Sweden Lead in Green Utilization
While the first color that comes to mind when one think of Scandinavia might be white (from all the snow and ice), you’d be surprised to find out it really should be green. The Northern European region is a world leader in renewable energy, and this week Denmark and Sweden hit major milestones in wind energy and waste management, respectively.
In Denmark, wind energy supplied nearly half of the country’s energy, accounting for 41.2% according to grid operator Energinet.dk.
“This is a record," it said. "The high share is partly due to more wind than usual, and partly due to a 650-megawatt growth in wind power capacity in 2013.”
This is up from 2013’s 33.2%. Still, no other country has a better wind energy to total power consumption ratio than Denmark, making them the world leader in wind. The country hopes to use wind energy to replace coal, gas, and oil by 2050. It set a record in January of this year when wind accounted for 61.7% of total energy usage.
Sweden has also been putting up high numbers, but in the field of waste management. It was reported that less than 1% of Sweden’s household waste is sent to landfills. The country also has import garbage from nearby countries in order to power its 32 waste-to-energy plants.
“Waste today is a commodity in a different way than it has been. It's not only waste, it's a business,” Swedish Waste Management communications director Anna-Carin Gripwell said.
More than half of the country’s garbage is converted into energy. Sweden’s waste management efforts are backed by strong governmental policies that require businesses to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
“Starting in the ‘70s, Sweden adopted fairly strict rules and regulations when it comes to handling our waste, both for households and more municipalities and companies,” Gripwell told HuffPost Canada. “People rarely question the ‘work’ they have to do,” she said.
Still, the country believes the most effective way to manage waste is to reduce the amount produced.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.