Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column on Green Issues for us:
Those of you who saw the recent article about the lack of snow in the Alps over this winter will take this as an illustration of the effects of climate change so close to us, just across the water. This is a very real problem for the ski resorts that rely on the winter season to make their living. The French Alps are beautiful at any time of the year, the lower slopes being home to beautiful green pastures carpeted with wild flowers in the summer but with a very different beauty in the winter, usually all covered with snow. But not this winter. Add to this the terrible storms and flooding in the North of England of Christmas 2015 and climate change is very real indeed.
In contrast, it was good to read that electricity generated by renewable energy made up nearly nine-tenths of the power that was added to European electricity grids last year. There was 24.5 GW of capacity built across Europe last year, 86% of which came from wind, solar, biomass and hydro, beating the 2014 record of 79%. For the first time, wind power has overtaken coal to become the EU’s second largest form of power generation after gas.
While this is very much good news for the present; for the long term only seven of the 28 EU countries have clear policies for the years beyond 2020. There seems to be less policy and political ambition for renewables than there was five or even three years ago.
The amount of wind power capacity installed in Europe is 153.7GW but this is a relatively small fraction of the area’s 918.8GW of total power capacity. The industry needs to grow to fill the gap created as governments force the closure of old coal plants to meet climate change goals. The UK has committed to do this by 2025.
There obviously needs to be far more support from governments to help renewable generation if we are to meet the targets set by the Paris agreement. The removal of subsidies for coal production must happen if we are to clean up our act and there must be no encouragement of new open cast coal or fracking in this country.