12. International Renewable Energy

B. Renewable Energy in Industrialized Countries


The European Community (EC) is currently stressing the importance of developing a sustainable energy supply.(2) The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that consumption of grid-connected renewable electricity in European member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will grow from approximately 5.0 quadrillion Btu in 1992 to 6.2 quadrillion Btu by 2010.(3) The prospects for hydroelectric, wind, and cogeneration with biomass are favorable in the EC, particularly for the first two types of energy. The outlook for solar thermal and photovoltaic applications is favorable in some regions (such as Greece, Italy, and Southern Spain). Most of the countries in the EC are actively pursuing the incorporation of wind power into their grid systems. Announced plans and reasonable projections indicate that more than 4,000 megawatts of wind power will be operational by 2000 (Table 43). The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that the new installed wind capacity could represent a $4 billion market between 1990 and 2000, or an average of $400 million annually (assuming $1,000 per kilowatt of installed capacity). Government energy policies are the driving force behind much of the increased consideration and use of wind. Underlying the policies is increased public concern about environmental degradation resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels, as well as uncertainty with regard to oil prices and mistrust of nuclear power.

Certain countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, have large solar energy budgets and have seen funding increase steadily for many years, while others, including Sweden and Norway, have seen budget reductions.(4) Other countries, such as Finland, France, Italy, and Spain, continue to have small but steady budgets for the various solar technologies. Support for photovoltaic projects has increased in all the EC countries except Denmark and Belgium. Many state, regional, provincial, and local governments also fund solar energy research and development activities.

In Eastern Europe, the prospects for development of renewable energy resources are generally poor, mainly because of a lack of financial resources and renewable technology expertise, as well as the lack of experience in environmental and renewable energy markets. Further development of hydroelectricity in the region seems unlikely. One of the few renewable energy projects in the region is an effort to develop wind power in Ukraine. A joint venture between a U.S. company and a Ukrainian utility seeks to build a 500-megawatt wind farm in the Crimea.(5)

Asia and Oceania

Information for three industrialized countries in the regionžJapan, Australia, and New Zealandžis presented below.