Meanwhile folk probably saw news that Spain has opened the world's largest solar power station, meaning that it overtakes the US as the biggest solar generator in the world. The nation's total solar power production is now equivalent to the output of a nuclear power station. With this method of collecting solar energy, sunlight is reflected off a parabolic mirror on to a fluid-filled tube. The heated liquid is then used to heat steam to run the turbines. The mirror rotates during the day to follow the sun's movement. The solar farm covers 550,000 square metres (the size of around 77 football pitches) and produces 50MW of power. See The Guardian 13th July 2010. So this should give a significant boost to Spain.
At the top end of the renewable charts is Sweden with 44.4 per cent of renewable energy sources in total consumption then Finland (30.5 per cent), Latvia (29.9 per cent), Austria (28.5 per cent) and Portugal (23.2 per cent).All this does mean Europe is more than halfway to hitting its target of generating 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.Of course it does mean the UK has to boost renewable energy consumption by almost 13 percentage points before reaching its 15 per cent target. The EU's 2009 directive on renewable energy set individual targets for all 27 member states according to their circumstances - closest to achieving their targets for share of renewable energy were Romania, followed by Sweden, with rises of 3.6 and 4.6 percentage points needed to reach their respective targets of 24 per cent and 49 per cent of renewable energy consumption in 2020. The EU has indicated that it might raise its 2020 renewable energy consumption target to 30 per cent, should other major economies such as the US, China and India agree to binding emissions reduction targets. We should be doing this anyway - this must be a key priority in terms of energy security and climate change.
Switching off lights
I have always been a little skeptical of the value of switching off lights, turning the television off at the mains and using cooler washing cycles. However new research says that it could have a much bigger impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power stations than previously thought. The new study published this month in the journal Energy Policy shows that the figure used by government advisors to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide saved by reducing people's electricity consumption is up to 60 percent too low.
This does indicate we need to step-up public information about climate change and about the need to take simple measures like switching off unwanted lights. As Caroline Lucas MP said: "Pump out more information and we’ll pump out fewer emissions." But as she also said: "...it’s clearly not enough to just encourage people to cut their energy use. The government should take every step it can, for instance by banning the fitting of stand-by switches to televisions, and by enforcing tighter regulations on the energy-efficiency of electrical goods, and by setting higher energy standards for homes. Those are actions that would cost nothing and hurt no-one, but would have a significant impact on overall energy use."