Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Smil on "How Green is Europe?"

A new article from Vaclav Smil, the always entertaining European accented Manitoba professor, is in the American online magazine.

How Green Is Europe?
A superficial look might indicate great achievements. Yet a closer view reveals how far the European renewables have to go, and what irrational choices are made to meet EU green energy quotas.
Germany produces half of energy with solar.” That was the recent headline on a German website of news in English, and it would have duly impressed anybody whose understanding of energy matters extends to just such headlines. But the headline, totally wrong, was also a perfect example of why it is so important to deconstruct the reports about green Europe.
Undoubtedly, the EU’s promotion of wind and solar resources resulted in consumption shares higher than anywhere else, but the contributions are uneven and remain small in absolute terms...  their contribution to the EU’s total primary energy supply remains very small: in 2012 about 1.1 percent for wind and not quite 0.5 percent for solar PV. Even in Germany their combined share of total primary energy supply was just 2 percent in 2012. 
... the expansion of Europe’s new renewables does not appear to be accelerating, and in some cases the latest trends are even below the earlier growth rates. The latest Renewable Energy Progress Report mandated by the European Commission shows that of all the specific 2020 targets for the European Union, only one, PV electricity generation, is likely to be met — but that is the lowest contributor in terms of primary energy. Even if the European Union meets that target, it will add only about 7 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) to the EU’s energy supply. In contrast, trends for all others indicate moderate to major underperformance. Offshore wind turbines were expected to generate an equivalent of 12 Mtoe by 2020, but will likely supply less than 4 Mtoe; onshore wind turbines were to bring in 30 Mtoe and will deliver only about 18 Mtoe; solid biomass will contribute less than 90 Mtoe, rather than the expected 104 Mtoe; and modern biofuels will add about 20 Mtoe, rather than 30 Mtoe.
Read the entire article at The American

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