The European Commission is seeking to achieve a target of 20% renewable energy by 2020. Quite an ambitious target judging by how slow many people and industries tend to be in changing their habits.
Global warming and energy dependence means we have to adapt to our mode of energy production and consumption.
By using local, renewable energy sources, we can reduce CO2 emissions. In 2005, these energy sources made up 8.5% of the total EU energy consumption. By 2020, the aim is to reach 20%!
In the past, watermills and windmills used to produce mechanical energy from renewable resources. With modern technology, modern versions can also use wind energy to produce electricity more efficiently.
Europe has made great advances in wind energy and produces the equivalent of the combined energy needs of Hungary and Denmark.
- Hydraulic energy produces electricity (whatever the size of the head of water).
- Geothermal energy uses heat from the depths of the earth to produce heat or electricity.
- Heat pumps can extract heat from gardens (a few metres below the surface) to heat houses. This is a new but promising application.
- Solar energy can produce heat or electricity. Solar heat panels installed on a roof can cover most of the hot water needs for sanitary purposes and can serve as a backup for domestic heating. In 2006, 20 million square metres of solar heat panels were installed in Europe and not just in Southern countries. Solar mirror plants (panels of photovoltaic cells grouped together in plants or on buildings) are becoming more and more popular.
- Biomass (vegetable, urban or animal waste) is known as ”The Sleeping Giant as it’s the most important renewable energy of the future. Applications include the combustion of wood or wood pellets for domestic heating. In industry and towns, the aim is to co-generate heat and electricity. This offers a much better overall yield.
- Biogas is produced by fermentation of waste such as liquid manure used in farming or other organic waste. It produces heat and electricity. Purified, biogas can be used as gaseous biofuel.
- Biomass also makes it possible to produce liquid biofuels, biodiesel and bioethanol.
The EU wants 10% of biofuels in substitution for petrol and diesel by 2020.
The EU is the world leader in the development of renewable energy with over 350,000 jobs and an annual turnover of 30 billion Euros.
The EU is committed to staying in the lead and reaching 20% renewable energy by 2020.
Governments also have a crucial role to play through their good example and support, and individuals can also play a vital part.
Let me know what YOU are doing to help conserve energy – leave a comment below.
Also, you might be interested in finding out about saving money on your electricity bills. Here’s an interesting website that show you how to make home made energy.