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.
- Japan: Japan has shown a strong interest in the development and introduction of new sources of energy that can serve as alternatives to oil. The Japanese government is strongly committed to improving the environment. The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) was established in 1980 as a central body to promote research and development for technologies related to new energy sources. Major emphasis has been placed on photovoltaic technologies, with research and development aimed at reducing the cost of photovoltaic modules, increasing the efficiency of single-crystal silicon solar cells and compound crystalline solar cells, and reducing the cost and improving the reliability of peripheral system components. Solar technologies for industrial process heat are also being investigated and developed. The renewable energy goals set in 1990 call for 6.2 percent of Japan's total primary energy supply to be provided by alternative energy sources by the year 2010 (1.4 percent in 1989). New energy sources include alcohol fuels, solar energy, black liquor, and charcoal fuel.(6)
- Australia: Australian researchers have produced a wide range of renewable energy innovations, but the record for commercialization of the technologies is uneven. Successfully taking renewable energy technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace remains a significant challenge. A number of federal and state government bodies are involved in research, development, and demonstration of applicable solar technologies. In the private sector, there are two photovoltaic module manufacturers, many photovoltaic system integrators and suppliers, and several major solar hot water heater manufacturers and specialty suppliers.
- New Zealand: The government of New Zealand is committed to the development of renewable energy through a number of legislative and funding measures. Government policy seeks the creation of a market in which renewables are placed on an equal footing with conventional fuels. There are 8 manufacturers of solar water heaters in New Zealand, operating in a market roughly estimated to be between 100 and 200 domestic installations annually. The market for photovoltaics remains small and involves mainly small systems for remote area lighting and low-current
applications. A grid-connected photovoltaic system is planned for two industrial projects in the near future. Other renewable technologies are also used, such as landfill gas generating plants, small hydroelectric projects, and remote
area wind energy power systems. There are plans to have several geothermal stations in the near future, including a 14-megawatt plant by 1995.
Return to Table of Contents