1.4tn: Europe’s solutions for air pollution

Air pollution costs the European economy €1.4 trillion a year.
Source: World Health Organization, 2015

Switching to renewable energy is a sure-fire way to clean up Europe’s energy supply and improve the quality of air.

Canary and Shetland islands: Replacing diesel with clean ocean energy

Ocean energy is replacing highly polluting diesel generation in islands and remote areas. The Shetland Islands get most of their electricity from diesel generators, despite having some of the world’s strongest tidal, wave and wind energy resources. Nova Innovation’s pioneering Shetland Tidal Array is a first step towards exploiting these resources and replacing polluting energy generation technologies with clean ocean energy.

Electricity production poses a major dilemma for European islands with poor or no connection to a mainland grid system, such as the Canary or Shetland islands. As a result, they are forced to rely on diesel generators to provide electricity. Not only is diesel one of the most expensive ways to produce electricity, with costs reaching up to €400/MWh, it is also one of the most polluting.

Diesel generators emit dangerous pollutants such as nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide, which cause acid rain. They also produce 1010g of carbon dioxide per kWh. This is even higher than the carbon intensity of coal, at 930g of CO2/kWh.  In contrast, emissions from ocean renewable energy are negligible.

Netherlands: On the clean track

Electrifying transport will improve air quality significantly, particularly when powered by wind energy.

Almost 500,000 people die prematurely in Europe every year from air pollution. In 2012, road transport and energy accounted for three quarters of all NOx, one of the most common air pollutants in the Netherlands. The Dutch government moved to reduce the death toll by introducing air quality legislation in 2007 and incentivising electro-mobility.

Today, the Netherlands is the electric car front runner in the EU with over 100,000 vehicles on the road. This first step led to a decline in carbon emissions and air pollutants.

In 2016, the Dutch parliament voted for a motion to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025 whilst pushing renewables and electro-mobility at the same time in the regions. Rotterdam, for example, supported residents with €9,000 if they replace their old diesel car with a new electric one. However, pollution problems have persisted.

Electrification is not enough. Electric cars have to become as clean as Dutch trains to reduce emissions and pollutants effectively. These fully run on wind power since the beginning of the year, as their president proudly announced tied to a windmill.

The Netherlands has 4,500 MW of wind power installed today. It plans to have 6,000 MW of onshore wind by 2020 and 4,500 of offshore wind by 2023. Dutch wind turbines could then produce enough electricity to power 1,000,000 Tesla S.

Reykjavik: Nearly 90 years of clean air geothermal heating

Reykjavik’s clean energy system means less emissions, less pollution and better air quality for its citizens.

Home to the largest geothermal heating system in the world, Reykjavik gives citizens clean electricity and energy around the clock. Geothermal central heating in Reykjavík goes back to 1930, with the use of artesian flow of water from shallow drill-holes. Today, three low-temperature fields serve both the capital and surrounding communities, so that all electric power and space heating in Reykjavík comes from renewable energy sources, geothermal and hydropower. While in Europe heat and electricity account for about 30% of GHG emission, in Iceland they account for only 4%.

For the last 87 years, geothermal has brought Reykjavík enormous benefits in terms of environment, economy and citizens’ living standards. Using geothermal heating instead of fossil fuels has saved more than 100 MtCO2 emission (around 3-4 MtCO2 emission per year), and transformed the city in one of the green capitals of Europe. Pollution levels for PM10, ozone, and NO2 are far below the limit values, and houses are always comfortably warm.

Sliedrecht: Thermal comfort

If the air looks hazy, adding solar thermal energy to your building can brighten the future.

Around half of the EU’s fine particular matter (PM2.5) comes from households.  A multi-family apartment building in Sliedrecht, South-Holland, choked under exhaust from gas-fired heaters  and looked for solutions.

The 80 households decided to switch to a 90 m2 central solar hot water system. According to the Head of Real Estate, replacing the water heaters avoid 10.5t of CO2 per year and reduce the final energy consumption by 57 000 kWh/a. In addition to a lower energy bill, the level of mould as well as NOx and PMx pollutants dropped while indoor air quality and comfort improved.

44bn: Rusava and Swansea trigger a wave of investment

€44bn were invested in European renewable energy plants in one year – Renewables attract double the investments of fossil fuels
Source: United Nations Environment Programme, 2016

Investments made in renewable energy plants stay in Europe and help the European economy.

In 2015, 17% of global investments in renewable energy plants were in the EU. This is more than double the investments in new coal and gas plants.

The European renewable energy industry generates a turnover of €144bn annually.
Sources: UNEP, 2016; EurObserv’ER, 2015

I wish the water was warmer? Try Renewable Energy Sources for your swimming pool

Have you ever thought “I wished the water was warmer” when training at the swimming pool for the triathlon or simply for your pleasure?

Well, the city of Rusava in the Czech Republic has a public swimming pool running on solar thermal collectors to heat the water. It has been noted that this system allows savings of 40.0000 kWh per year!

Also, since new collectors have been installed in 2004, the heat pump which existed as a complementary solution hasn’t been used!

This technology reduced tremendously the energy bill of the city and allows Rusava’s citizens to enjoy swimming at a comfortable water temperature at no additional costs. What a good investment for the local administration!

Swansea, Wales – A €1.5bn clean energy investment in a pan-European supply chain

The proposed 320 MW Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has generated a €1.5bn opportunity to invest in a local and pan-European supply chain.

In December 2016, a UK government review of tidal lagoons found that moving forward with a pathfinder lagoon is a “no regrets policy”.

The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon could be this pathfinder for the tidal lagoon industry and leverage investments worth €62bn in the UK, with significant export opportunities of European know-how globally.

To date, approximately €41m million has been spent on project development. Pension fund Prudential will be a major investor in the project, signing up to provide €120m in equity funding.

1.2m: What’s powering local job markets in Namur and Grindavik

1.2 million renewable energy jobs in Europe
Source: European Energy & Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, 24 October 2016

Renewable energy projects create more jobs during installation and operation than conventional plants. Over 1.2 million jobs have already been created in Europe by the renewable energy industry and this is just the beginning…

Grindavik, Iceland: Thou shalt not waste the most precious resource

In the Icelandic Southern Peninsula, HS Orka has developed a unique business idea: a Resource Park for a society without waste. Two geothermal plants produce electricity and hot water, and excess resource streams then go to a diverse network of companies. The range of businesses in the Resource Park is incredibly varied, including the Blue Lagoon spa, cosmetics manufacturers, biotechnology companies and  aquaculture.

More than 500 jobs can be directly attributed to HS Orka’s Resource Park, in addition to other derived jobs. The park operates under the motto “Society without waste,” meaning that all the resources must be used responsibly and to their fullest extent for the benefit of the community.

Namur, Belgium: A deeply-rooted job generator

Since 1983, STUV has created 120 direct jobs and many more among its subcontractors. The company produces 15.000 wood logs or pellet stoves per year and ships over 75% of its production throughout Europe. In 2006, the company installed its production of a new 5.000m² hall in the village of Bois-de-Villers, near Namur, Belgium.

In 2008, the company expanded and built a 3.000m² Research & Development Centre and the prototype production workshop in Floreffe. STUV works with hundreds of installers who generate their own added value integrating the appliances in homes. In addition, the wood demand generated by STUV installations creates economic activities in the surrounding forests as well as the arrival of new local pellet producers and retailers.

91%: Germany gives power to the people

91% of Europeans want more renewable energy
Source: Special Eurobarometer 435, November 2015

Public support for renewable energy has never been higher. A recent poll carried out by TNS in all EU countries concludes that 91% of Europeans say it is important that their government sets targets to increase the amount of renewable energy used by 2030.

Ortenau, Germany: Energy co-ops yield interest

50 km south of Strasbourg, Germany’s Energiewende is in full swing. In June 2016, the Südliche Ortenau civic wind farm emerged on the territories of the municipalities of Ettenheim, Schuttertal and Seelbach. The wind farm comprises seven modern 2.75 MW GE wind turbines with a hub height of 139 metres.

In a normal wind year, each of these turbines can power 2,000 households, and together they produce enough electricity to cover 30% of the demand in all three municipalities. Independent from volatile fossil fuel prices, locals can buy the generated power directly at a stable price.

Ownership and information are the cornerstones of a strong community. Events involved the municipalities early in the planning stage, and flyers and guided tours presented the construction phase. The local energy cooperative also gave communities the opportunity to become majority owners while just investing a very small amount. Depending on the option, investors can benefit from interest rates or dividends of 3% or more.

In September 2016, The Bürgerwindpark Southern Ortenau won the Best Community Project Award of WISE Power, an EU-funded project that compiles social acceptance pathways in a multi-lingual toolkit.

35bn: The leading role of European companies in the USA and Canada

€35bn were exported by the renewable energy industry in 2014. Renewables represent a significant European export industry
Source: Eurostat – Comtrade, 2015

European companies supply a growing global renewable energy market playing a world-leading role. To fully tap this global economic opportunity, the EU needs to adopt strong renewable energy legislation.

Geothermal know-how, from Europe to the rest of the world

Europe is undoubtedly the number one in geothermal energy technology, which is being exported all over the world. A new trend, tested by Italian utility Enel Green Power, is to combine geothermal energy with other renewable energy technologies, making geothermal plants more efficient and sustainable.

Recently, Enel combined geothermal energy with hydropower in Cove Fort, United States to provide more electricity for the plant’s operation. The innovation involves the installation of one generator in a reinjection well, which produces electricity from the falling flows of water previously used by the geothermal plant. The result is an unprecedented innovation that reduces operating and maintenance costs, while offering the opportunity to generate additional revenues.

The ground-breaking technology, the first in the world in such large scale, originates in Italy, where the phase of research and design took place. The company’s power plants around the world are in fact controlled by young Italian engineers working from the geothermal plants in the Italian provinces of Pisa, Siena and Grosseto

EU tidal technology dominates Canadian developments

European technologies are the clear global leaders in tidal energy, and are well positioned to dominate the global market. Signs of this are already manifest: developments in the Canadian East-coast, an early non-EU market, are led by European turbine manufacturers.

The Bay of Fundy in Canada is home to the fastest tides in the world. On a flood tide, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flow into the Bay of Fundy – more than four times the estimated combined flow of all the world’s freshwater rivers during the same 6-hour interval.

European companies such as DCNS/OpenHydro, Atlantis, DP Energy and Schottel are leading the deployment of tidal energy farms in the Bay of Fundy, exporting European technology and know-how.

7%: How Danish towns and Swiss villages fight climate change

7% less CO2 has been emitted in Europe thanks to renewable energy deployment 
Source: EEA, Renewable energy in Europe – Approximated recent growth and knock-on effects (2015)

Between 2005 and 2012, the development of renewable energy in Europe reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 7%.
Renewable energy is a solution to decarbonise the economy and mitigate climate change.

Hylke, Denmark: Fast track heat pump roll-out cuts more than emissions

hylke In 2015, all heat pumps in European homes saved 24 Mt of CO2 emissions. Part of the savings came from Hylke, a town of 500 residents in Central Denmark. With an innovative business model, they successfully managed to phase out their oil consumption with approximately 30% in one year.

The city decided to replace a series of oil-fired boilers with smart low-maintenance heat pump solutions. The installations measure and log electricity consumption and heat production every 5 minutes. Private households and local business owners followed the example.

Until now, Hylke has cut its annual CO2 emissions by 100t and its annual heating bill by more than €20.000. Half of the savings coming from the local school, allowing using the money for a better cause.

The project is fully applicable to other cities and public-private partnerships with other municipalities are emerging.

Bever, Switzerland: ”Green” milk prevents greenhouse gases

bever What if we could radically reduce CO2 generated by industries, particularly from industrial heating processes?

One of the highest-located dairy industry in Europe operates in Bever, Switzerland. The Swiss milk industry decided to invest in 115m² parabolic solar collectors, which generate around 70 MWh per year. The high-temperature system then converts solar energy into enough steam for all its dairy products. By doing this, the industry could reduce its CO2 emissions by 18 tonnes per year.

Milk, butter and cheese from Bever not only makes you feel good because of its quality but also because it has been processed with fewer greenhouse gases thanks to solar thermal technology.

44bn: What’s driving investments in Scotland and Lille

€44bn were invested in European renewable energy plants in one year – Renewables attract double the investments of fossil fuels
Source: United Nations Environment Programme, 2016

Investments made in renewable energy plants stay in Europe and help the European economy.

In 2015, 17% of global investments in renewable energy plants were in the EU. This is more than double the investments in new coal and gas plants.

The European renewable energy industry generates a turnover of €144bn annually.
Sources: UNEP, 2016; EurObserv’ER, 2015

Caithness, Scotland: Driving investments in tidal energy

Tidal energy is driving investment in European technologies and projects. One such project is MeyGen – the first multi-megawatt tidal farm in the world.

The project’s developer, Atlantis Resources, has raised over €60m to finance its first development phase, which is now delivering power to the UK electricity grid.

When completed, the full MeyGen project 398MW will produce enough power for 175 000 homes. Such projects are a significant opportunity for commercial debt and equity providers to invest in Europe’s energy transition.

In 2016, Equitix, a €2bn fund management outfit, announced a partnership with Atlantis Resources, which would see them acquiring a 25% stake in each of Atlantis’ Scottish projects, representing an investment commitment in the hundreds of millions of euros.

Lille, France: Recycling infrastructure investment powers local bus fleet

Recycling organic urban waste enables cities and municipalities to attract green investment, create local jobs and produce renewable energy. This is the case of Lille’s metropolitan area in northern France that has one of Europe’s most advanced recycling systems.

The core element of this facility is Lille’s Centre for Organic Recovery, a €54m infrastructure investment which treats 108.000 tonnes a year of organic waste from households, hospitals and parks. This investment significantly improved the overall economy of the city in several ways.

The energy bill of the waste facility was reduced by using the energy produced on-site.

100 city buses are powered each year with the 4,11 million m3 of biomethane produced by the facility.

In addition, a new revenue stream is generated by selling 34.000 tonnes of compost to local farmers to fertiliser their fields.

1.2m: Green jobs revamp Yorkshire and Andalusia

1.2 million renewable energy jobs in Europe
Source: European Energy & Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, 24 October 2016

Renewable energy projects create more jobs during installation and operation than conventional plants. Over 1.2 million jobs have already been created in Europe by the renewable energy industry and this is just the beginning…

Hull, UK: How a town in decline re-energised itself

Like many seaports, Hull has a proud history. Shifts in the global economy however led to deindustrialisation and rising unemployment. This changed a decade later.

In March 2014, Siemens and Associated British Ports announced that they would jointly invest £310m into two wind turbine production facilities in the region. The Green Port Hull takes advantage of the offshore wind opportunities in the North Sea and established a world-class centre for emerging renewable industries.

The Green Port Growth Programme supported over 300 local companies, 400 employees and 600 apprentices in getting a skilled job with energy, manufacturing and engineering firms. The number of green jobs in the region climbed to 1,000, turning one of the UK’s poorest towns into a bustling hive of commercial activity.

The operation of the Hull plant begins next week and recruitment is ongoing.

Guadix, Spain: Creating jobs with solar thermal power

Solar thermal power plants provide considerable numbers of skilled jobs during both their construction and operational phases.

The Andasol 1 and 2 power plants, a 100 MW solar thermal power station located in Andalusia in Spain, created about 500 jobs per plant during the construction stage. Today, it employs 50 full-time staff, and will continue to do so throughout the entire project lifetime.

With the right policy support, Europe’s STE (solar thermal electricity) sector can generate 160,000 jobs in Europe in engineering, manufacturing and construction, plus further indirect employment.