Sunday 15th of December the yearly UN Climate Conference in Lima finished, two days late, with a deal between all 194 represented nations. For the first time in history, an agreement has been reached that commits every nation to reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The deal outlines the framework which will be the core of the necessary deal to take serious global action, to be agreed upon during the climate top in Paris in December 2015.
This week, SolaRoad opened its first solar powered bike road in the Netherlands. The test lane is about 100 meters long and will give useful information about the efficiency of the solar panels build into the concrete lane, covered with a thick glass sheet to protect the panels. An interesting experiment, yet there are many objections to make. Why lay solar panels on the ground, where they will rapidly get covered with mud and dirt? SolaRoad says it solves this problem by tilting the bike lanes slightly. The test project will show if this is sufficient. Another important objection is that the panels aren’t tilted properly to catch as much solar power as possible. According to The Guardian this could mean a decrease of 30% electricity. It is very unlikely solar panel roads will be powering street lightning, let alone electric vehicles passing over it.
On the morning of the 25th of October, the world received the news European leaders reached a long-awaited deal on how to tackle climate change after 2020. By now, most people have heard about the 20-20-20 strategy outlined in the climate and energy package in 2009. The three key points of this package are (all to be reached by 2020):
- A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels;
- Raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%;
- A 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency.
So far, many European countries are doing quite some efforts to reach this goals and many of them will reach this targets well in time. But it was time to think about the next step, and that’s what the recent European top in Brussels was all about. This time, new goals for the decade following 2020 were on the table. The new key points are bolder:
- 27% energy efficiency,
- 27% renewables
- 40% reduction of greenhouse gases
In March 2009, the Andasol-1 solar thermal collector opened in Spain, the first of its kind in Europe. Later that year Andasol-2 was opened and in 2011 another Andasol collector became reality. In contrast to the common photovoltaic systems we see on rooftops, the thermal collectors store the sun’s heat in a big heat reservoir of molten salt, by reflecting the sunlight with parabolic mirrors pointed at the reservoir. Via thermal turbines this heat is be transformed into electricity, enough for up to 200 000 people.
Today I want to share with you an article which illustrates how we can use energy more sufficiently. As street lighting takes up to 6% of electricity use in modern countries, it’s worth to think about smarter ways to light urban areas. That’s exactly what they try to do in Copenhagen. Read the article.