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Renewable energy around the world

[Renewable energy, everywhere!]

New Zealand has an enviable energy portfolio, with over 75% of it’s electricity coming from renewable sources. Hydro electric generation provides over half of the country’s electricity (~55%), while geothermal generation provides about 15% and wind energy approximately 5%. 25% of the country’s electricity, however, still comes from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil.)

In 2011, New Zealand made a commitment to generate 90% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 — a goal that seems quite achievable given their current energy mix and the potential for growth across sectors, in particular energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and wind.

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[Wind farm, New Zealand]

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[Hydro facility, New Zealand]

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[Wind farm, New Zealand]

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[Wind farm above Wellington, New Zealand]

In contrast to its antipodean neighbor, Australia‘s energy portfolio and climate change politics more closely resemble the United States’. Australia’s vast fossil fuel resources enable its dependence on carbon-intensive energy, making it the highest per-capita polluter in the world. A whopping 75% of  Australia’s electricity comes from coal with 16% coming from natural gas, 5% from hydroelectric, and 2% from wind. While the country has some of the highest solar radiation levels in the world, inconsistency in tax incentives has limited rooftop development. I did, however, spot a number of PV and thermal installations during my stay in Cronulla, a beach town south of Sydney.

Last July, Australia’s parliament voted to repeal the carbon tax that had been in place since 2012, becoming the first developed country in the world to roll back such legislation. Despite the policy setback, decreased electricity demand due to a high Australian dollar have reduced emissions and the country is on track to meet its commitment of a 5% reduction below 2000 levels by 2020.

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[Solar PV and solar thermal in Sydney, Australia]

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[Solar-powered temple, outside of Bagan, Myanmar]

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[Solar-powered clinic outside of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka]

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[Solar-powered cabins on Lake Bunyoni, Uganda]

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[Solar-powered kitchen on Livingston Island, Zambia]

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[Land-based wind farm, the Netherlands]

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[Wind turbine, the Netherlands]

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[Land-based wind farm from the water, the Netherlands]

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[Historic Kinderdijk windmills, the Netherlands]

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Wind turbine & solar array; Germany

[Wind AND solar, Germany]

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Wind farm, West Virginia

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Wind farm, Kansas

 

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