Is your city’s energy renewable? (If not, you could soon become a fossil)

Wed, 2015-11-18 06:00 -- Kevin Ebi

More and more cities are setting ambitious targets for renewable energy. San Diego, for instance, wants to be 100% renewable by 2035.

But how do you achieve such ambitious targets? "One neighborhood at a time" may prove to be the right answer. As you'll read below, Schneider Electric is helping both Corsica and the Philippines with small- to mid-sized projects. Each such project is a meaningful step towards energy that is not just more renewable, but more reliable and resilient as well. — Jesse Berst

How much of your city’s energy is renewable? If your answer is, “none” or “not much,” your city is in danger of becoming a fossil — not unlike the fossil fuels you’re burning.

For the first time in history, the balance of power plant construction has now shifted toward renewable energy. And several countries are well on their way to getting most — or even all — of their energy from renewable sources.

Balance has shifted
Of all the new power plants that went online last year, half produced renewable energy, according to the latest figures from the International Energy Agency. That’s the first time that level has been achieved. And 60% of new investment is going into renewable energy.

Green energy now ranks as the second most common type of energy and it’s rapidly closing the gap between it and the leader: coal. At the rate new green energy plants are coming online, the agency says it could overtake coal within the next 15 to 20 years.

Government leads the way
Government leaders are one of the key forces behind this shift. The Danish government wants all of its country’s energy to be renewable by 2050. On one day this year, Germany managed to get 78% of its energy from renewable sources, although it says its yearly average will be closer to one-third — still a record, however.

A project on the French island of Corsica represents the shift toward renewables. Council Lead Partner Schneider Electric is helping with a project that combines solar panels with lithium-ion batteries. When completed later this year, 400 homes will get their power from solar energy — day and night.

Not just for environmental reasons
While much of the focus on green energy is for environmental reasons — cutting carbon emissions to slow climate change — cities are turning to it for other benefits as well. It’s also playing a role in improving resiliency.

Another Schneider Electric project is using solar power to help restore service to parts of the Philippines that were devastated by a typhoon. The solar system is capable of powering 128 homes, as well as a clinic, day-care center and community center, in addition to street lighting and water treatment facilities.

Two of the systems will go online later this year and a third will launch early next year. The systems are designed to be much more resistant to recurring natural disasters that hit the area, helping the communities recover faster.

More stories …
6 new signs the world is getting smarter about energy
Leveraging community solar to become a smarter city