If you follow renewable energy news, you've probably noticed an increasingly common phenomenon: records for renewable energy generation are falling like flies around the world. So much so that "record amount of renewable energy produced" is beginning to feel a bit like old news.
Here are just a few of the recent headlines.
Germany generates over half of its energy from the sun
Germany has long been a leader in the renewable energy field thanks to its "Energiewende" (energy transition) policies. TriplePundit reports that on June 9, the country generated over 50 percent of its electricity from solar power for the first time ever, and weekly solar power output hit new highs too. While the government is now cutting back on subsidies due to such rapid growth, the increasing availability of home energy storage systems suggests we should continue to see disruptive change in the German energy markets for some time to come.
U.K. renewable energy production up 43% since 2013
A combination of strong winter winds and the addition of several massive new offshore wind farms meant that the United Kingdom produced a record 19.4 percent of its electricity supply from renewables in the first quarter of 2014. According to reNews.biz, that figure is up 43 percent from the same period of 2013.
Californian solar power production up 3-fold since May 2013
PV-magazine reports that solar power was responsible for powering 6 percent of California's total electric load in May, a figure that's three times the amount produced in May 2013.
Texas hits 29% wind energy record
In Texas too, renewable energy has been breaking new ground — momentarily hitting 29 percent of the Lone Star State's electricity production on March 26, 2014. The Energy Collective reports that this record will soon be surpassed again, most likely, as Texas continues to add new wind energy capacity.
As this last example shows, we should not be surprised that generation records are constantly being broken, any more than we are when we see that the oldest person in the world has died... again. The simple fact is that renewable energy production capacity is being added at an astounding rate. Worldwide solar power capacity is 53 times higher than it was just nine years ago, and wind power has grown more than six-fold in that same period. And because renewables can be deployed much faster than traditional, centralized power plants (83 percent of new production capacity was from renewables in May), clean energy will almost inevitably be claiming a bigger piece of the production pie for some time to come.
Such growth does not come without its problems, of course. Most renewable energy sources are intermittent — meaning solar only produces when the sun shines, and wind production varies with the strength of the wind — and distributed power generation creates its own headaches for grid operators and policy makers. Yet with the growth in microgrids, energy storage and smart grid/demand response technologies, we can be hopeful that future records for renewable energy production will represent not just momentary peaks in production, but rather a growing capacity to supply overall energy demand over the course of the day too.
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