Vol 7, No 8 (2016) > Editorials >

Renewable Energy’s Role in a Changing World

Eko Adhi Setiawan, Muhamad Asvial


Abstract: Since the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased significantly, from 280 parts per million (ppm) to 401 ppm. This data was taken from the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, on October 4, 2016. The safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 ppm. The only way to reach that level is to immediately transition the global economy away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy and energy conservation. However, developing countries have the right to limit their emissions less than developing countries, which means the responsibility for lowering emissions falls even more upon already industrialized countries. In other words, industrial countries need to reduce their emissions significantly. Actually, a reduction in emissions will not necessarily lead to less economic growth; from 1990 to 2014, European Union member states reduced their carbon emissions by 19 percent even though they achieved 45 percent economic growth. In 2014, Germany’s economy grew by 1.6 percent, while gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption fell by almost 5 percent.

Nowadays the costs of renewable energy has become more competitive compared with fossil fuels in countries across the world. For example, solar photovoltaic technology has already become cheaper than diesel generators, with clear benefits for communities in areas far away from the utility grid. Renewable energy is also increasingly the most economical solution for new grid-connected capacity where very potential resources are available. In May 2016 the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority revealed that the lowest bid received for a solar project was US 2.99 cents/kWh, which is the lowest winning bid yet globally for a solar photovoltaic system. Meanwhile, the electrical power produced from natural gas in the Middle East is around 7 cents/kWh on average. Renewable energy technology is ready to be implemented massively and it is working reliably in many countries around the world. By 2050 almost all global energy needs can be met with renewables. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, already gets 25% of its electricity from renewables, and is aiming for 80% by 2050. Wind power was Spain's top source of electricity in 2013, ahead of nuclear, coal, and gas. Renewables supplied 42% of mainland Spain’s electricity in 2013. In 2012 China’s wind-power generation increased dramatically more than generation from coal. Portugal generated more than 70% of its electricity from renewable energy sources during the first quarter of 2013. In the US, nine states are getting 12% or more of their electricity from wind. The Philippines produces 29% of its electricity with renewables, targeting 40% by 2020. Denmark is going to produce 100% of its heat and power with renewable energy by 2035.

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