Despite the threat that Trump poses to the Paris agreement, the other signatory nations have declared that they will stick to the plan, with or without America’s help. Many at the UN climate summit taking place in Morocco have pointed out that the renewable energy revolution will continue regardless, and a new report on the growth of clean energy sources agrees.
Within the UK, low-carbon energy sources – including nuclear, hydroelectric power, wind, solar, and biomass power plants – provided up to 50.2 percent of the nation with electricity this summer, up from just 20 percent in 2010. Nuclear energy provided the lion’s share here, generating about 26 percent of the UK’s electricity needs.
Wind (10 percent) and solar (5 percent) capacity has skyrocketed up to 600 percent of the 2010 value. Back then, biomass provided near to no electricity generation – now, it’s at 4 percent. At the same time, the UK’s carbon emissions are at a record low, having dropped 56 percent in the last four years.
This is driven by a range of factors. Firstly, renewables are getting cheaper all the time.
The UK government has a fairly bad record as of late when it comes to subsidies and funding for things like wind and solar power, but fortunately their manufacturing and maintenance has dropped in price thanks to a global surge in the use of the technology.
The government also announced last year that all its coal-fired power plants – the world’s primary source of carbon dioxide emissions – were to close by 2025.
Over the last year, more than a quarter of them have shut down and been replaced by both renewables and nuclear power plants. In fact, for six consecutive days this year, the UK didn’t use any coal to produce electricity – the first time this has happened since 1881.
The report, by energy company Drax in collaboration with Imperial College London, corroborates with other developed nations’ trends in electricity generation. Regardless of each nation’s willingness to adhere to the Paris agreement, the fact is that coal is on its way out.
Just this October, it was confirmed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that the world’s capacity to generate power has overtaken coal. Installing renewable energy power plants is also often just as cheap as investing in coal, but without the environmental damage associated with it.
Nuclear power is still quite expensive, but the more costly it is to invest in coal, the cheaper nuclear power will get. Carbon taxes – prohibitive price tags on industries that have large carbon footprints – will also serve to cheapen nuclear power.
Simply put, investing in low-carbon energy is an economically sound decision for any contemporary government to make. It’s also a good way to, you know, save the planet.