What Form Of Renewable Energy Has Declined
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Governments are planning ways to reduce emissions, investors are reviewing companies’ environmental performance, and consumers are becoming aware of their carbon footprint. But no matter which party is involved, the production and consumption of fossil fuel energy is one of the biggest contributors to emissions.
What Form Of Renewable Energy Has Declined
Renewable energy technology harnesses energy from the sun, wind, and heat from the earth’s core, and then converts it into usable forms of energy such as heat, electricity, and fuel.
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The infographic above uses data from Lazard, Ember, and other sources to outline everything you need to know about the five main types of renewable energy:
Editor’s note: We exclude nuclear energy here because, although generally defined as sustainable energy, it is not technically renewable (i.e., uranium is limited in quantity).
Hydropower is the largest, though often overlooked, renewable energy source, followed by wind and then solar.
Together, these five major sources will account for about 28% of global electricity generation by 2021, with wind and solar hitting the 10% mark for the first time.
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The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) measures the life cycle cost of new energy generation divided by the total power generation. Solar and wind LCOE is almost one-fifth that of coal ($167/MWh), meaning that new solar and wind power plants are more expensive to build and operate than new coal-fired plants in the long run.
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at five renewable energy sources and how they work.
Wind turbines use large blades, mounted at high altitudes on land and at sea, to capture the kinetic energy produced by the wind.
As the wind flows over the blades, the air pressure on one side of the blades drops and pulls them downwards with a force described as:
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The difference in air pressure on both sides causes the blades to rotate and the rotor to rotate.
The rotor is connected to a turbine generator, which rotates and converts the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity.
Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells contain a semiconductor wafer with a positive electrode on one side and a negative electrode on the other, creating an electric field. When light hits the cell, the semiconductor absorbs sunlight and transfers energy in the form of electrons. These electrons are trapped by the electric field in the form of an electric current.
The solar system’s ability to generate electricity depends on the semiconductor material as well as environmental conditions such as heat, dirt and shadows.
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Geothermal energy comes directly from the earth’s core – heat from the earth’s core boils underground reservoirs called geothermal sources.
Geothermal power plants typically use wells to extract hot water from geothermal sources and convert it into steam for use in turbine generators. The extracted water and steam can then be re-injected, making it a renewable energy source.
Similar to wind turbines, hydroelectric power plants use a turbine generator to convert the kinetic energy of flowing water into electricity.
Hydroelectric power stations are usually located near bodies of water and use diversion structures such as dams to change the flow of water. Energy production depends on volume and changes in altitude or
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Biomass – organic matter such as wood, dry leaves and agricultural waste – is often burned but is considered renewable because it can be regenerated or replenished. Combustion of biomass in a boiler produces high pressure steam which turns a turbine generator and generates electricity.
Biomass is also converted into liquid or gaseous fuels for transportation. However, biomass emissions vary by material burned and are generally higher than other clean sources.
Most countries are in the early stages of their energy transition, and few get most of their electricity from clean energy sources. However, growth over the next decade is likely to be higher than last year’s record.
The IEA estimates that by 2026, global power generation from renewable sources will increase by 60% from 2020 levels to more than 4,800 gigawatts – equivalent to current combined production of fossil fuels and nuclear power. So regardless of when renewables take over, it’s clear that the global energy economy will continue to change.
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U.S. Energy Decarbonization Index Utilities This chart calculates and compares the decarbonization status of the 30 largest US utilities owned by investors.
With the Biden administration targeting a zero-emissions US energy sector by 2035, how well is America’s largest electricity supplier decarbonising?
Visual Capitalist and our sponsor, the National Utilities Commission, developed the annual Utilities Decarbonization Index. The index measures and compares the decarbonization status of 30 of the largest investor-owned utilities in the United States.
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Decarbonization is measured by grading companies on six emissions-related metrics based on publicly available 2020 data (latest available).
Together, the 30 utilities generate approximately 2.3 billion megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity (including purchased electricity), accounting for more than half of net US power generation in 2020. In addition, they serve more than 90 million customers, or around 56 percent of national electricity consumers.
Therefore, it can be said that the top 30 IOUs played an important role in the decarbonization of the energy sector and the US economy. Because the residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors all use electricity, decarbonizing utilities—power providers—can achieve emission reductions throughout the economy.
For each of the six indicators used in the Decarbonization Index, public services are scored on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), indicating whether they are lagging or leading. The score for each metric is based on the numerical range of each metric, which is divided into five equal groups by that utility.
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For simplicity, it is assumed that the minimum reported value for total emissions is zero metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO).
), the highest is 100 metric tons. In this case, companies with CO2 emissions below 20 metric tons
A maximum of 5 points will be awarded. Emissions between 20 and 40 metric tons of carbon dioxide
Data for this metric comes from a variety of sources, including corporate sustainability reports, the Edison Electric Institute quantitative reporting template, and the Climate Disclosure Project’s climate change questionnaire notes.
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Before looking at the numbers, it’s important to note that the Decarbonization Index is relative and compares the 30 largest IOUs to each other. Therefore, a score of 5 does not mean full decarbonization or zero net emissions. On the contrary, it shows that the tool performs very well compared to its counterparts.
A small number of companies do not report data for certain metrics and are excluded from the assessment for this metric (marked as N/A). In this case, the average decarbonization fraction is five metrics instead of six.
New Jersey-based Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) topped this year’s rankings with low emissions and ambitious climate goals. The company aims to achieve net zero emissions from operations by 2030 – five years ahead of Biden’s administration goals and faster than any other company on the list.
Related to PSEG is NextEra Energy Resources, a clean energy subsidiary of NextEra Energy. The company is the world’s largest producer of solar and wind energy, and by 2020, 97% of its net electricity will come from low-carbon sources.
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In third place is California’s largest company, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). PG&E has the lowest per capita emissions of the 30 largest IOUs at 0.5 metric tons of CO
Per retail customer in 2020. This figure is much lower than the average of 11.5 metric tons in 30 IOUs.
Rounding out the top five are Avangrid, the US arm of the Spanish Iberdrola Group, which focuses on renewable energy, and Exelon, the country’s largest utility by retail customer. Avangrid has one of the cleanest fuel mixes and 87% of its own clean electricity comes from low carbon sources. Exelon is the largest provider of zero-emissions electricity in the United States, generating approximately 157 million megawatt-hours of electricity, and 86 percent of its own net electricity comes from nuclear power.
While the Decarbonization Index provides insight into the current state of decarbonization of public services, there is more to be found throughout the report, including:
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>> Click here to download the full report and learn all you need to know about decarbonization utilities.
Energy All electric semi-trailer models in one image A wave of electric semi-trailers is expected in the next few years. Check out this infographic to learn more.
Electric semi-trailers are on the horizon and could help eliminate carbon in the shipping and logistics industry. However, reach remains a major limitation.
This presents a challenge for long haul hauls, where the average diesel semi-trailer can travel up to 2,000 miles before refueling. Compared to the Tesla Semi, a long-range electric model, it promises up to 500 miles. The key word here is “promise” – Spring is still in development and nothing has been confirmed yet.
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We’ve listed them all in this infographic
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