The Energy [R]evolution Gets Going!

New report finds that global renewable energy growth is outpacing coal and nuclear

Feature story - June 24, 2011
A new Greenpeace report on the state of the global power plant market shows that since the 1990s, installations of wind and solar grew faster than any other power plant technology.

Construction of New Wind Turbines in UK

New wind turbines are constructed at the Butterwick Moor Wind Farm. The site consists of 10 turbines with a total power of up to 30MW. © Steve Morgan / Greenpeace

This latest report comes in the wake of Greenpeace Africa’s recently publishedAdvanced Energy [R]evolution Scenario, which shows that investments in the renewable energy sector could create 150,000 new jobs in South Africa over the next 20 years.

It is now up to the South Africa government to seize the moment; with the political will and South Africa's abundance of renewable energy resources, the country could realistically become the renewable energy leader in Africa.

The Greenpeace report, The Silent Energy Revolution: 20 Years in the Making, also highlights how renewable energy power plants accounted for more than a quarter (26%) of all new power plants added to the worldwide electricity grid over the past decade, compared to nuclear power stations representing just 2% of new installations in the same period.

“With renewable energy now the world’s fastest growing source of power plant installations, governments can make a simple, clear choice,” said Greenpeace International Senior Renewable Energy Expert Sven Teske.

“They can commit to a future shackled to dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, or they can kick start an energy revolution by implementing renewable energy laws across the globe, and leading investment in a renewable energy future that will not only boost global economic development and create green jobs, but will also play a key role in mitigating climate change”.

South Africa can source half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030, rising to 94% by 2050 -- this according to the Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario. This is more than double what the South African government is aiming for in the Policy Adjusted Integrated Resource Plan.

In recent months, South Africa confirmed its addiction to coal and nuclear with the release of the IRP2010, which includes two new coal fired power stations and six new nuclear power stations. The IRP2010 sits in stark contrast to the government’s new growth path that will create ‘green’ jobs through a green economy and climate friendly initiatives, utilising the huge potential of the renewable energy market in South Africa.

“The clear trend away from coal and nuclear power plants towards renewable power plants is a massive step in the right direction,” said Teske.

According to Ferrial Adam, climate campaigner for Greenpeace Africa: “As the host of the international climate negotiations COP 17 in Durban at the end of this year, the South African government must make the right choices domestically to create a better and cleaner future for all.”

"There is no technological barrier to achieving a clean and sustainable energy pathway utilising renewable energies. Investing in people, rather than dirty and dangerous energy will not only boost South Africa's economic development, but also stem catastrophic climate change,” concluded Adam.

More information on the report

The Silent Energy Revolution report shows that while the global wind industry added some 35,000 MW of capacity in 2010 alone, it took the global nuclear industry a full ten years to achieve this (2000-2010). During the same period, new coal installations went into decline in every country except China, where almost 80% of the world’s new coal plants went into operation in the last decade. However, not only has China phased out around some of its dirtiest coal plants over the last five years, it has also increased its domestic wind market, doubling capacity every year since 2003.