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Nature · Economy

Will 2015 be the turning point year for emissions?

February 10th, 2015
in:Nature, Economy
by:Itai Lahat
located in:Germany, Australia
tags:carbon emissions, energy consumption, solar energy

2014 closed with many things to worry about, but some news may sweeten the pill for 2015. The big news is that some economies are seeing a beautiful drop in their energy consumption and as a result their emissions drop too!

Let’s start with those solar loving Germans. Business Green reports that German energy demand fell nearly 5% in 2014, dropping to the lowest level since the German reunification. Coal use fell even more dramatically, to 7.9%, as the country's much talked about "energiewende" (energy transition) policies to promote renewables and energy efficiency started to show some real dividends. The Germans had an early start compared to rest of the world, but other countries are catching up quickly.

The Guardian reports that Australia saw the biggest drop in carbon emissions in a decade, with analysts crediting the country's carbon tax for incentivizing a broad-based push for lower emissions and more efficiency across a wide range of industry sectors. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 1.4% in the second full year of the carbon price scheme. Electricity emissions account for a third of Australia’s emissions output, which stood at 542.6m tonnes in the past year, down from 550.2m tonnes in the previous 12 months.

This has a lot to do with solar installations in the country. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has reported that according to its latest numbers, 19% of households in Australia now have rooftop solar systems installed. In addition, Australia has now exceeded 4 gigawatts in solar PV capacity, according to the Australian Photovoltaic Institute. The APVI has said that rooftop solar capacity has risen four-fold since 2011. Indeed, the percentage of households with solar is up to 19% from 5% back in 2011. A meteoric rise in just two years!

This trend is also happening in the UK. New analysis of government statistics for BBC News shows that the average person in the UK is using 10% less electricity than five years ago. That is despite the boom in large TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. EU standards on household appliances have allowed people to do the same tasks with less energy. Dr. Nick Eyre from Oxford University told BBC News: “Energy use is lower than in 1970 even though the economy is twice as big - it's the first time in memory that energy use has fallen so substantially - and it's due to policy”.

But perhaps the real sweetener for the new year comes from the solar energy analyst at Deutsche Bank, Vishal Shah. In his latest industry report, he predicts that by 2016, solar rooftop will reach grid parity - which means it costs the same or less than getting electricity from the power grid - in 50 U.S. states. No need to tell you, this would be a watershed event, no doubt creating a new inflection point in the growth of solar power.

Article written by:
Itai Lahat
Author
Current Map: Our coverage
Because of solar installations all over the country, Australia´s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 1.4% this year.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has reported that according to its latest numbers, 19% of households in Australia now have rooftop solar systems installed.
It is predicted, that by 2016, solar rooftop will reach grid parity – which means it costs the same or less than getting electricity from the power grid – in 50 U.S. states.

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