Monday, 30 January 2012

Renewable Energy Hotspots: where they are and why

Solar Energy

1) Germany: 6,526 MW

When it comes to solar energy capacity, Germany easily claims the top spot with nearly half of the world’s total installed capacity. One of the major reasons for all of Germany’s success is the pricing structure that has seen a consistency over the years and has supported the growth of this clean energy. Germany has also developed the latest in solar energy devices like silicon wafers and solar cell equipment, which can harvest the solar energy at a very large scale.

2) Spain: 5,504 MW

The government of Spain came up with the mandatory feed-in-tariff pricing structure back in 2007. With the effect of this policy, the solar cell plant and the solar cell energy development saw a rapid increase and grew over five times in just a year.  The climate of Spain is also ideal for absorbing and storing solar energy.

3) Japan: 2,347 MW

Japan’s solar research has helped increase the efficiency of solar cells, so that the maximum amount of solar energy can be tapped from sunlight.  The country is also aiming to increase solar power plant capacity from 10% to 40% with the help of government incentives and assistance over the next decade.

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4) The United States: 1,488 MW

The United States is one of the top countries for solar power for several reasons: solar technology, research and development, and utility scale solar power plants (concentrating solar power).  Several States have adopted programs to encourage installation of solar panels, including New Jersey and California.  Much of the climate in the U.S. is favourable for the production of solar energy.

5) China: 223 MW

China has come on strong in the solar power world in recent years.  Like other top countries for solar power, China is a leader both for solar technology and development, as well as number of solar energy power plants.  China produces the most solar hot water in the world and accounts for 2/3 of global solar electricity production.  The country is now also the world leader in solar PV panel production.

Hydro Energy

Hydroelectricity is one of the most important sources of energy in the world.  Many countries in South America are almost completely dependent on hydro power for their energy needs.  Venezuela, Norway and Paraguay are almost 100% dependent on hydro power.  For example, Paraguay exports a massive portion of its generated energy to neighbouring countries.  The top 5 countries for hydro power capacity are:

1) China: 200 GW

The Three Gorges Dam produces the same amount of energy as 15-nuclear power plants and is five times the size of the Hoover Dam. The dam itself is 1.2 miles wide, with a reservoir behind it that is 525 feet deep and 370 miles long, which stores roughly 50 trillion gallons of water.

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2) Canada: 89 GW

The Robert-Bourassa generating station is a hydroelectric power station on the La Grande River that is part of Hydro-Qu├ębec's James Bay Project in Canada. The station can generate 5,616 MW and its 16 units were gradually commissioned between 1979 and 1981.

3) USA: 80 GW

The Grand Coulee Hydroelectric Power Plant is the largest hydro project in the USA.  It consists of 3 power plants and is the largest source of electricity production in USA.  The Coulee Dam has a total capacity of almost 7000 MW and helps in irrigation as well.

4) Brazil: 70 GW

The Itaipu dam has a capacity of 14GW, which made it the biggest hydroelectric power plant until the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, in China.  During 2011, Itaipu generated 92,24 TWh, providing 17% of the total energy consumed in Brazil and 73% of Paraguayan consumption.

5) Russia: 45 GW

The Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam in Russia is the largest power plant in Russia and the world’s sixth-largest hydroelectric plant. The total installed capacity of the plant is 6,400 MW; its average annual production is 23.5 TWh.

Wind Power

When it comes to wind power capacity, the top five most talked about countries are as follows:

1) Germany: 22,247 MW

Around 10% of the total energy used by the population of Germany is supplied by wind turbines. Germany consistently retains one of its chief routines, which is harnessing wind power very efficiently because they believe that utilizing wind energy instead of fossil fuels helps reduce the carbon footprint of the residents of Germany.

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2) The United States: 16,819 MW

Wind energy through wind turbines are used very efficiently in the United States. In fact, these wind turbines are placed in greater numbers to further benefit more areas and more people in an attempt to break away from the dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels which bring obvious potential hazards to the environment.

3) India: 7,850 MW

5% or less of the power needed for the country is supplied by the wind, but this percentage increases steadily each year. India is looking forward to surpass larger and more developed countries where alternative energy sources are involved.

4) France: 2,455 MW

France has a history of energy efficiency, and this is also true when it comes to using wind turbines to generate electricity which is environmentally friendly. This country generates around 1% of the energy used by the population from this alternative source, and other renewable sources like ocean power and nuclear generation are used as well.

5) The United Kingdom: 2,389 MW

The UK has many areas which see high wind averages all year long, and this makes this power source extremely efficient when the equipment is placed in the right locations. Between 1 – 2% of the annual consumption of UK is provided using wind power.

Geothermal Energy

1) The United States: 3,086 MW

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The United States tops the world in geothermal energy production, with 77 geothermal power plants that generate roughly 15 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year.  The majority of the United States’ geothermal energy comes from the western states, and if tapped to their full capacity, geothermal reserves beneath just nine of the United States’ 50 states could provide upward of 20 percent of the nation’s electricity needs.

2) The Philippines: 1,904 MW

The Philippines has been using geothermal energy since 1977, when the country’s first geothermal power plant was built on the island of Leyte. Chevron, which is the largest geothermal producer in the world, has invested over $2 billion into Philippine geothermal energy installations.

3) Indonesia: 1,197 MW

Indonesia holds nearly 40% of the world’s geothermal potential beneath its thousand of volcanic islands, accounting for an estimated 28,000 MW of potential energy. Indonesia is on track to develop 44 new geothermal power plants by 2014, raising capacity to 4,000 MW, and the country plans to produce 9000 MW from geothermal by 2025.

4) Mexico: 958 MW

Mexico is home to the largest geothermal power plant in the world.  The Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station has a 720 MW installed capacity, and plans are in place for expansion to 820 MW by 2012.

5) Italy: 843 MW

Italy was where the very first geothermal power plant was built at the Larderello dry steam field in Tuscany. Larderello is where the first modern geothermal plants were constructed as well.

Biomass Energy

1) The United States: 10.4 GW

The United States continued to lead the world for total biomass power generation in 2010.  Most U.S. biomass electricity is derived from wood and agricultural residues and black liquor burned as fuel for cogeneration in the industrial sector.

2) Brazil: 7.8 GW

Brazil’s biomass power capacity, nearly all cogeneration, has also been increasing steadily.  Most generation is from CHP plants at sugar mills using sugarcane bagasse as feedstock.

3) Germany: 4.9 GW

Germany’s total power output from biomass increased by an annual average of more than 22% during the past decade.  Most biomass power in Germany comes from biogas, with capacity increasing more than 20% during 2010, and generating enough electricity for 4.3 million households.

4) China: 4 GW

China’s capacity rose about 25% in 2010.  The main sources of bioenergy include sugarcane bagasse, solid biomass, organic waste, and biogas (including from livestock wastes).

5) India: 3 GW

Biomass resources are used for power generation through three general applications, including grid-connected biomass power plants, off-grid distributed biomass power applications, and cogeneration via sugar mills and other industries.

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