Global leader Vestas poised to lead offshore wind revolution
While hydroelectric power generation globally leads all other renewable energy sources at 1,292GW of global installed capacity (according to the International Hydropower Association), wind and solar duke it out for the remainder of the podium. As of 2018, the World Wind Energy Association placed wind at 597GW of installed capacity worldwide, while the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported the world’s photovoltaic capacity at 480.3GW. While hydropower is not a viable household solution, wind and solar have perhaps captured the imagination of the public most demonstrably with the advent of commercial wind and solar solutions increasingly found on household’s rooftops and lawns.
Between the two, wind provides less predictable but cleaner energy production than solar, releasing fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere, consuming less energy and giving considerably more bang for the installer’s buck. According to Green Future, it takes around 48,704 solar panels to generate the same amount of electricity per kWh as one wind turbine. Offshore wind also poses far fewer space-related challenges than solar fields, saving such land for agriculture, industry and housing; all space-hungry factors whose necessity grows by the day on our ever more populated planet.
As the fight for renewable energy solution of choice gets fiercer, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) recently found that wind alone could solve the challenge of meeting the world’s ever-increasing electricity demands. While offshore wind produces just 0.3% of the world’s electricity at present, the IEA said that offshore solutions could exceed the global electricity demand if all viable sites no further than 60km from coastlines were put into action.
But who is best place to facilitate the realisation of such a lofty but realistic ambition? With 105GW of wind turbines in action across 80 countries, Danish wind turbine designer, manufacturer, installer and service provider Vestas Wind Systems is the clear leader in the global market. Founded in 1945 as a manufacturer of household appliances, the firm began manufacturing wind power solutions in 1979 before becoming wholly dedicated to the craft in 1989. In 2018, the company’s revenues hit €10.1bn, recorded its highest-ever order intake at a cumulative 14.2GW, and received its largest ever order in the 950MW MHI Vestas Offshore Wind project in the UK. The company’s achievements in 2018 did not stop there, and it became the world’s first firm to install 100GW of wind turbines through the completion of its 250MW Arbor Hill project in the USA. Its portfolio makes up 20% of the world’s total installed wind capacity. As the effects of the climate crisis become more apparent and consumers become increasingly vocal and demanding of change, it will certainly be interesting to see whether key players such as Vestas can introduce the capacity that the IEA has earmarked as an absolute game-changer.
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.