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Renewable Implementation and Challenges Involved


Renewable energy initiatives are being absorbed as part of the national energy policies all across the world. Nearly 138 countries globally, by 2012, have set their renewable energy targets to be achieved by 2020, whose implementation, however, remains challenged due to the lack of strong policy frame work, high project costs involved, resources availability and use, technology & infrastructure, and social factors.

Technically advanced countries including the Germany, UK, and China have set strong renewable targets by 2020 and beyond. China, targets to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable by 2015. It has set target to generate 200 Giga Watts (GW) of wind power, 50 GW of solar power, and 420 GW of hydro power by 2020. It also has target to generate 13 GW of biomass power by 2015. Germany aims to become solely renewable dependent. It has set target to generate 35% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2035. With its initiative of nuclear power decommissioning, the challenge is become more severe to ensure energy security.

UK, targets to meet 15% of its energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. Scotland targets to be 100% renewable energy dependant while the Northern Ireland targets to generate 40% of its electricity from renewable energy. The U.S. though doesn’t have a federal renewable target at national level in place implements Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) at state level. Nearly 30 of its states currently implement RPS that mandates the utilities and energy companies for provision of a percentage share of electricity from renewable sources. Also, Austria targets to meet 85% of its electricity from renewable and Netherlands targets 16% of energy by 2020, while Denmark aims to be 100% renewable by 2050.

The prime objectives of renewable energy include reduction of carbon foot print there by controlling the greenhouse gases emission as well as saving of the depleting natural energy sources simultaneously ensuring energy sustainability. The renewable sources, however, involve high capital costs of implementation when compared to the conventional sources making them expensive. The utilities and energy companies just translate these high costs to the customer making it an unattractive option to find easy end user acceptance. Also, lack of strong and well designed policy frameworks involving feed in tariffs, financial aid and passing on subsidies radically increase the end user costs increasing the complexity of implementation.

The key drivers that continuously motivated and which further continue the implementation of the renewable energy projects are financial aids and subsidies, while others include the governing policies, falling technology costs, rising fossil fuel prices and increasing carbon emissions. Subsidies worth $88 billion globally were assigned in 2011 for the implementation of renewable projects which grew over 24% over the previous year. These are further projected to increase to $240 billion by 2035 for successful implementation of the set target projects.

Technology and infrastructure has been quite challenging for successful implementation of renewable projects, especially the lack of sound transmission and distribution grid increases considerably the project costs and time involved. China is spending nearly $100 billion towards building an Ultra High Voltage (UHV) grid by 2017 to integrate its six regional grids and enable long distance transmission of its 210 GW of wind power generated in the Western region to its heavy load centers in the East. Similarly, Germany which is one of the pioneers for renewable energy implementation still lacks robust transmission and distribution grid. It requires $30 billion of investment to upgrade its grid for integrating its renewable power sources by 2022.

Resource availability and use, is also an important phenomenon with respect to the renewable projects implementation. Developers of new renewable energy sources face the challenge to find appropriate and publicly acceptable sites and locations for the projects. Also, lengthy permitting processes and standards than for the conventional projects delay the implementation adding to the overall costs of the projects. Lack of availability of skilled work force for the development, operation and maintenance of the projects also increases the challenge. Successful addressing of the above factors could aid a smooth transition of conventional energy to renewable.

Related Reports:

Global Renewable Energy Market Outlook (2010 - 2015)

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