The United Kingdom has been setting records in solar energy production throughout the year. It’s no surprise to see that the area’s power industry is therefore reaching its greenest year in 2017. Renewable energy will keep growing in the U.K. to the point where more records are expected to be set next year.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Britain was able to break 13 different renewable energy records over the last 12 months. A lot of the success comes from ongoing wind and solar projects that are being constructed, especially during the summer months. One of the records broken was in June, where Britain reached nearly 20 gigawatts of generation from renewable sources, more than gas and coal sources combined.
Prior to that, the U.K. had their first ever 24-hour day without the need for any coal generation back on April 21st. With wind peaking during the spring months, there was no need to turn on any fossil fuel generators to meet energy demand. This grew to the longest period without needing coal at the end of October, lasting 40 hours and 35 minutes a few days before Halloween.
National Grid, who compiles and verifies the energy data with the WWF, is expecting further records to break in 2018 with larger capacities of renewable sources attached to the grid. They're able to forecast carbon intensity in electricity on the grid over the next 48 hours. If there isn’t as much renewable energy available due to weather conditions, people have the opportunity to turn off devices and save that power.
“It’s been an exciting year managing the many ‘network firsts’ - from a day where we operated the system with zero coal power, to one where over half of Great Britain’s energy demand was met by renewable generation.” Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid, said in a press release. “I’m sure there will be more records broken in 2018 and we’re ready and excited to play our part”.
Other records set over the year includes solar energy reaching 8.9 gigawatts of generated power on May 26th. Wind power, which is more favorable in spring and fall seasons, reached 12.4 gigawatts from all of Britain's sources on December 6th. One day later, the most wind power produced in one day was set at 281.5 gigawatt-hours.
Since 2012, Britain has eliminated 50 percent of their carbon emissions and are now one of the top 10 cleanest places for energy generation in the world. A whopping 82 percent of the United Kingdom supports the transition to renewable energy.
All of this is great for the electric vehicle industry that’s ideally fueled with nothing but clean power. Gareth Redmond-King, head of energy and climate at WWF, believes that the sale of cars running on gas and diesel need to be banned by 2030. Further ambitious efforts could be given toward reducing energy use in buildings.
Ikea announced multiple renewable targets that they plan to reach by 2030, which includes removing single-use plastic over the next few years, offering more home solar solutions, and to reduce their greenhouse gases by 80 percent compared to their levels in 2016.
China is slowing down local growth in the solar industry, which may not sound like progress, but the entire world benefits. Lower costs from Chinese manufacturers exporting their products will create higher rates of installation around the world.
The European Commission announced plans recently to further regulate single-use plastic, including outright banning certain items that have the most effect on marine pollution. These new rules would also require manufacturers to raise awareness and help with cleanup efforts.
There's a new way to recycle single-use plastic waste, and it's by using a dung beetle. Art designers have created a sculpture that's able to convert plastic into gas, and the event hopes to inspire others to find inventive concepts to eliminate plastic waste.