Climate change is a global issue, and around the world, countries have organized renewable energy initiatives to reduce their environmental impact. These projects and programs reflect a society more conscious of its footprint, aware of the effect of carbon emissions and excessive waste on the planet’s health.
Though it’s a slow transition — and some are still reluctant to accept the change — the United States is moving closer to clean energy every day. While the president has made his position clear, state leaders across the nation continue to push for renewables as they distance themselves from fossil fuels.
Overseas, policymakers have shown the same dedication to preserving the environment, developing plans to decrease their dependence on coal, oil and natural gas. We’ll touch on a few of these ambitious initiatives and others like them, exploring projects in Tunisia, Nicaragua, Wales and China.
The TuNur Project, Tunisia
A new solar complex in Southwest Tunisia will aid the country in its goal of providing clean power for Europe. Known as “TuNur,” the project will employ concentrated solar power technology — or CSP technology for short — which uses parabolic mirrors connected molten salt energy storage on an enormous scale. Covering an area almost three times the size of Manhattan, the initiative has required significant investment.
As the energy accumulates, it will follow three separate routes through submarine cable systems until it reaches Malta, Italy and France. In developing the project, Tunisia hopes to revive Europe’s plans of importing inexpensive energy from North Africa, initially abandoned due to political instability in the area. Whether or not this will prove successful, TuTuNur Ltd has already requested authorization to start the project, and the first phase could begin by 2020.
Ongoing Energy Goals, Nicaragua
To make mention of a previous point, many policymakers are pushing toward renewables to replace existing methods of energy production, replacing coal, oil and natural gas with clean alternatives. Countries have set ongoing goals for themselves to reduce — and eventually end — their dependence on fossil fuels, and Nicaragua is a prime example. Far ahead of its time, renewables comprised 54 percent of the country’s electricity generation in June 2015.
Nicaragua has only continued to make rapid progress in the renewable energy sector, and they plan to reach 90-percent renewable energy by 2020 through a combination of solar, wind and geothermal sources. Much of their success is attributable to their president in 2007 who encouraged investment in renewables, prompting the public to give more consideration to clean energy. It had the intended effect, and the momentum would carry into the present day.
Tidal Lagoon Cardiff, Wales
Tidal Lagoon Power is developing a project with the potential to provide clean energy to every household in Wales, supplying electricity to more than three million people through the strength of the ocean’s tides. Located between Cardiff and Newport, the system will use around 108 tidal lagoon turbines in an attempt to harness the second highest tidal range in the world. If it’s successful, it’s safe to speculate that similar projects will show up elsewhere.
This turbine technology doesn’t often see large-scale use, and the cost of the project reflects the ambition of the initiative. The final estimates place the cost at more than eight billion pounds, or to convert that substantial sum to our currency, roughly 10.13 billion dollars. As of now, the future of the project depends on the success of Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, a 320 MW pilot scheme in Swansea which is currently under development.
Solar & Wind Farms, China
China isn’t often associated with clean energy, as they’re the world’s leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Their high population and large industrial sector cause considerable pollution, but through recent renewable energy initiatives, they’re working toward reducing their massive carbon emissions. Though China may have a more significant interest in the financial benefits of the new technology over its environmental benefits, the effect remains the same.
They’ve used their abundance of free land to develop and operate large-scale solar and wind farms, using an enormous expanse of open space unavailable to other countries. As a part of the Paris Agreement, China has set goals for renewable energy they intend to achieve in the not-so-distant future, like meeting 20 percent of their energy needs through renewables by 2030. While this seems comparatively meager, the size of the country is something to take into account.
Toward a Better Future
It’s impossible to ignore the effect of fossil fuels on the environment, with unseasonable weather, fluctuating temperatures and a higher frequency of natural disasters. Yesterday’s technology won’t solve today’s problems, and politicians and entrepreneurs are turning toward solar, wind and geothermal sources as clean alternatives to coal, oil and natural gas. Through renewable energy initiatives, they’re changing the climate’s current trajectory.
So, where is the world heading next? Toward a better future — and countries like Tunisia, Nicaragua, Wales and China will take us there.