At Yamakura Dam, 45 km southeast of Tokyo, construction workers are screwing together a 51,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of floating solar panels. When completed, it will be one of the world's largest floating solar projects. Roughly 30 percent of the work on the project in Chiba Prefecture is complete, and when it comes online in 2018, the 13.7 megawatt facility will provide enough electricity to power almost 5,000 households annually. However, even attention-grabbing projects like this one will produce less than 1 percent of what's needed for Japan to reach its 2015 goal of doubling its renewable energy use to between 22 and 24 percent by 2030 from around 10 percent at present. The growth of renewable energy in Japan risks being smothered by a wave of newly approved coal mines across the country, as the government is expected to lower its optimistic goal of reviving nuclear energy.
Japan's home rooftops are emerging as the next hot spot in what for years has been one of the biggest solar markets in the world, marking a move beyond the utility-scale projects in rich industrial nations that have fueled most of the industry's growth. Because of the change, Japan may not remain the No. 2 solar market behind China beyond next year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts. Developing nations such as China, Brazil, Egypt and India will pick up the slack as photovoltaics move beyond a toy of rich industrial nations into a competitive power source for places where it is costly to import fossil fuels. The government is encouraging more energy-efficient buildings that combine solar panels with some form of storage and other devices like fuel cells. That change also underscores what happens when authorities curtail incentives that have spawned sprawling projects, each covering acres of countryside.
Clean energy is improving but not fast enough to solve climate change, according to the International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook report. The 661-page report, which forecasts global energy trends up until 2040, says the electricity sector is currently undergoing its'most dramatic transformation since its creation'. One of the main reasons for this transformation is the rise of wind and solar power, but it is still is not happening fast enough, the report found. If current trends continue the global demand for oil will keep rising to at least 2040, largely driven by an increase in demand from developing countries. Clean energy is improving but not fast enough to solve climate change, according to the International Energy Agency's annual World Energy Outlook report (stock image) 'If the world is serious about meeting its climate targets then, as of today, there needs to be a systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies', said Dr Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency (IEA)'s Executive Director.
For a glimpse into the future of coal power in Australia, go west. The country's last major investment in coal-fired electricity was in Western Australia in 2009, when Colin Barnett's state government announced a major refurbishment of the Muja AB station about 200km south of Perth, far from the gaze of the east coast political-media class. The plant was 43 years old and mothballed. Reviving it was meant to cost $150m, paid for by private investors who would reap the benefits for years to come. But costs and timeframes blew out.
Listening to the Trump administration advocate for reviving coal, one might get the impression that a fossil fuel resurgence is taking place in the U.S. and abroad. However, the global statistics tell a far different story about where the world is getting its energy, with unprecedented thresholds crossed by renewable energy technologies like solar and wind power. A major new report released Wednesday morning shows that, for the first time ever, 2016 saw solar photovoltaics, or solar PV, take the lead for the fastest electricity capacity growth when compared to any other fuel, beating the net growth in coal. The rapid expansion of solar and wind energy in global electricity markets is a positive sign for those working to limit the severity of global warming, which is caused by emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. The report, by the International Energy Agency (IEA), finds that renewables represented almost two-thirds of new net electric capacity additions in 2016, with almost 165 gigawatts coming online worldwide.