Renewable Energy Becomes an Inevitable Choice for Global “Energy Transformation”
As issues related to sustainable d e v e l o p m e nt s u c h a s ensuring energy resources are sustainable, protecting the environment, and addressing climate change raise more and more concerns around the world, accelerating the development and utilization of renewable energy is becoming increasingly in demand. Many developed and developing countries have put forward goals for this progress, and deployed key sectors for renewable energy. Even Canada, Australia, the Middle East and North African countries, which are traditionally rich in fossil fuel resources, have displayed an ambition in renewable energy, focusing on solar and other new energy sources, to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. Renewable energy is therefore becoming a fundamental trend for global energy transformation. Accelerated development of new energy
Europe is pioneering the construction of low- carbon, clean and sustainable energy systems. The EU has formulated energy development goals, namely raising the proportion of renewable energy in energy consumption to 20% by 2020, and 27% by 2030, while also guiding member countries to strengthen the development of renewable energy by quantitative indicators. Denmark has proposed to have zero fossil fuel use by 2050, and Germany has issued a strategic new energy development plan, saying that new energy will account for 60% of energy consumption by 2050, and 80% of electricity consumption.
The United States has been sup- porting the comprehensive and largescale application of various renewable energies for a substantial amount of time as well. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) approved in 2015 requires the US electricity industry to reduce carbon emissions in 2030 by 32%. Other policies the United States implemented for renewable energy development include the federal production tax credit (PTC), investment tax credit ( ITC) and the cash subsidy measure in 2009 Economic Stimulus Act. In addition, about 29 states have implemented renewable energy market share policy (RPS), allowing renewable energy companies to benefit from selling renewable energy certificates (REC).
China is steadily growing to be a major player in global renewable energy market. In 2015, China promised that by 2030, its greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced, and its proportion of non-fossil energy in primary energy consumption would rise to 20%. By continuously developing sup-
portive policies for renewable energy resources such as wind power, photovoltaic energy, solar power and heat utilization, China aims to maintain the largest growth rate for gloabl renewable energy market.
Emerging economies and developing countries are also focusing on renewable energy. With the world’s second largest population, and being a major energy consumer, India is accelerating its development of solar energy utilization, aiming for solar power installed capacity to reach 100 million kilowatts, wind power installed capacity reached 150 million kilowatts, all by 2027. UAE, Saudi Arabia and other traditional oil-producing countries are also increasing their emphasis on the development of renewable energy. The United Arab Emirates plans to build a city that relies entirely on renewable energy by 2025. Renewable energy is also an important way to address the shortage of modern energy in Africa. Various renewable energies begin scale application
Hydropower, wind power, and solar power are presently the best alternatives for future energy consumption in order to reduce carbon emissions, while biomass energy and geothermal energy are growing as important renewable energy sources.
According to statistics from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), in 2015 renewable energy met about 19.2% of global energy demands (10.3% by modernized renewable energy and 8.9% by traditional biomass energy), and electric energy production from renewable energy accounted for 23.7% of the world’s total power generation, with 16.6% contributed by hydropower. Wind power and solar power marked the largest growth.
Wind power is fast becoming the most popular investment. In 2015, the global wind power market grew by 63 million kw, with the cumulative installed capacity rising to 433 million kw. Wind power accounts for more than 3.2% of global electricity supplies, and 45% and 13% of electricity consumption in Denmark and Germany respectively. The ratio for the EU as a whole has topped 10%, making it one of the main wind power supplies. In recent years, Asia was steadily growing its wind power market, while the Latin American market also rapidly expanded.
Scale development projects for solar power are growing around the world, making solar power energy an industry with some of the greatest growth rate and potential. In 2015, the new installed capacity of photovoltaic energy was about 50 million kw, and the cumulative installed capacity reached 227 million kw. The contribution of solar photovoltaic energy to the global electricity supply has topped 1%, and accounts for 3.5% of the EU’S total electricity consumption. The Middle East and Latin American markets are beginning to lead the development of PV market, while more and more African countries are entering this sector. Renewable energy will provide a new strategy for the modernization of developing countries
During the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) at the end of 2015, 196 countries and regions reached the historic Paris Agreement, and established an important objective for climate change action, aiming at limiting the temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (with a strong focus on reaching only 1.5 degrees Celsius) per year. Participants agreed to immediately measure peak carbon emissions, and realize zero greenhouse gas emissions in the later half of this century. It is widely believed that renewable energy technology is the key to low-carbon energy transformation, and will become a common practice in order to solve current economic and environmental problems.
Though developed and developing countries are facing the same challenges for green and low-carbon energy transformation, developing countries can support industrialization and urbanization through a renewable energy-based energy system, and find a sustainable way to promote their modernization. Energy consumption of developed countries in North America and Europe is stabilizing, and largescale power and energy constructions have been completed, while many coal and nuclear power units are becoming obsolete, meaning renewable energy system will quickly replace existing coal, nuclear and even natural gas power generation facilities, complementing and optimizing existing energy system infrastructures.
At the same time, more and more developing countries are embracing an accelerated industrialization and urbanization process. Facing the challenges of environmental pollution and climate change, they can no longer rely on coal, oil or other high-carbon fossil energy based energy transformation, and must instead strengthen the restrictions on high carbon fossil energies, and ensure energy security through a clean low-carbon renewable energy system.