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Renewable is a vital cog in our energy supply

A recent report from Greenpeace revealed a very significant finding.  As we are by now all aware, the pressure is now on governments across the world (the UK very much included) to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and thereby limit carbon emissions. Between 2007 and 2013 US carbon emissions were reduced by 16%, which is undoubtedly a significant achievement.  During the same time, the use of coal also fell by 21% whilst shale gas went up by 23%.  However, despite the high levels of publicity around fracking and shale gas, the Greenpeace report indicated that, since 2007, an incredible 70% of the reduction in carbon emissions in America was actually entirely down to the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency plans. This stands firmly against the opinion of some voices in the energy lobby that renewable sources are not the way forward in terms of energy production.  It also contradicts the opinions of the fracking lobby that would argue the carbon reduction is actually down to the controversial extraction of shale gas.  In itself, that revelation has come as a blow to the vocal fracking lobby.  Although natural gas made up nearly half of the gap left by the reduced use of coal, the fact that you need to burn natural gas means that the process actually releases carbon dioxide as well... and that is obviously the very thing that the world is trying to avoid.  In addition, it seems that natural gas technology also leads to the production of methane.  Further, methane can be far more damaging for the environment than carbon dioxide could ever be and, arguably, shale gas might therefore provide little environmental benefit, long term.

Renewable energy consumption grows

Over the same time period renewable energy consumption increased by almost 50%, contributing an equally sizeable chunk to the hole left by the reduction of coal-fired energy.  So instead, it has been the increased use of clean, renewable energy sources that has really contributed to this dramatic reduction.  An incredible 40 of that 70% was down to wind energy, for instance, with the rest made up of varied energy efficiency technologies. These are difficult but important times for the global energy industry.  Nations are working towards a new climate deal, whilst the world attempts to unite in a shared interest in reducing carbon emissions.  In Europe, debate rages about the reliance of Western Europe on gas produced in Russia.  In the UK in particular, news programmes currently carry stories about the fragility of UK energy reserves, moving towards what is predicted to be bitter winter months.  If the US keeps up with their laudable increase in renewable fuel, such sources could go on to make up to 20% of country’s energy needs by 2020.  And that’s a lot of energy. It really boils down to the health of the US economy and the maintenance of subsidies.  Certainly 2015 is set to be an important year in the global energy scene and it would seem that clean technologies, and renewable sources, are set to play an ever increasing role in the evolving story of global sustainable energy supply.  

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