Fri Apr 9th, 2010 at 07:52:27 AM EST
I've been spending a lot of time lately looking at the sources of electricity production lately. I'm going to be finishing a dissertation on the political economy of wind energy development in Spain. And I've been wondering how the different countries of the EU stack up when it comes to electricity production. First things first, 55% of the electricity produced in the EU comes from fossil fuels, with coal(31%) and natural gas (22%) making up the lion's share of that.
While the share of coal should come as no surprise, because it is so prevalent in the region, the size natural gas-fired production should be. Given the amount of complaining about the Russian "energy weapon" that goes on, you would think that the least that could be done would be an effort to move away from this, not toward it.
front-paged by afew
All countries in the EU are not equal, in that some get considerably larger parts of their electricity from fossil fuels than others.
While countries like France and Sweden are able to get by with less than 10% of the electric power coming from fossil fuels, there are some huge surprises like Denmark where just over half of power comes from coal and another 18% comes from natural gas. Further, the small island members (Cyprus and Malta) get all of their power from oil. And, natural gas fired production provides 55% of generation in Ireland and Italy, while the UK gets 42% of its power from the same. Again, given the talk about a Russian energy weapon, it's shocking that gas is being used for electricity.
On the up side, there's starting to be movement in Central Europe on wind energy. It seems that the reliance either on nuclear, coal, or gas plants there is a legacy of communism, however several of the countries have good wind power potential.
I don't know how seriously to take this, but the Romanian Wind Energy Association is saying that they expect to have 545 MW of wind power capacity installed by the end of the year (up from 14 MW last year) and something like 14,000 MW of connection requests have been made.
Even half that (at a 30% capacity factor) would produce 18,396 GwH annually. That's almost 30% of current Romanian electric power generation.
And in Spain, the solar energy revolution is just beginning, with the introduction of solar thermal power using mirrors to concentrate power instead of photovoltaics. There are currently 232.4 MW (capacity) of solar thermal power in operation in that country, 1993 MW (capacity), and another 1080 MW (capacity) announced. Altogether that is 3305 MW of thermal solar capacity. At a 15% capacity factor, that's 4343Gwh annually, or 1.4% of Spanish production. If that capacity factor could be pushed to 40%, that would allow 3.8% of Spanish electricity to come from the sun.
I suppose that this has been a lazy picture diary, but I thought that it would surprise every one here where their electricity is coming from.