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What is clean energy and why has it taken the globe by storm?

27/04 2020Posted by: 4mat Admin Subscribe to this blog
Clean energy, renewable energy, alternative energy, sustainable energy – with so many terms to describe our power sources it’s no surprise there’s often confusion around their meanings. One thing is for sure though – clean energy is needed for a net zero-carbon future. So how do we get there? We must utilise renewable sources and conventional power so that we can minimise carbon emissions while protecting our overall energy supply. 

It’s clear to see that clean energy is taking the globe by storm. Just consider that in 11 years, global investment skyrocketed from $70.9 billion to $333.5 billion – that’s a 470% increase. But there is no one reason for this spike in production of clean energy, rather it’s a multitude of factors. 



What is clean energy?

What defines clean energy is that this method of power generation does not release any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Another term we hear often is ‘renewable energy’ but the two cannot be used interchangeably. Although clean energy is usually generated from renewable sources - such as solar and wind - renewable energy is power that’s generated from sources that naturally replenish, but are not necessarily zero-carbon. 

A net-zero carbon future

There is no denying that our world leaders have boosted their efforts to minimise our impact on the planet. The UK government signed the 2015 Paris Agreement which means, by law, our nation must cut our emissions by 80% as of the year 2050. And a determining factor of us achieving this is the source of our energy – which must be clean for 75% of our total electricity production. 

At RWE, we’re doing everything that we can to support the UK’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 and we’ve set ourselves an even more ambitious task - we aim to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. It’s our plan to use RWE Renewables’ strong starting position in the field along with an investment of 1.5 billion euros per annum to help us achieve this. 

There is no doubt that clean energy is the answer to a zero-carbon future, but renewable energy and conventional power are both essential to support this transition. 

Conventional power and renewable energy

The UK’s power grid currently relies on power stations and for us to transition to 75% clean energy we must continue using a small amount of natural gas. Friends of the Earth – an environmental campaigning community – assure us that keeping these power stations running alongside renewable and clean energy production is essential. This ensures that our overall energy supply is protected should there be any fault with one part of the system. There is also technology for a potential future option to remove and store the carbon (Carbon capture & Storage – CCS), meaning conventional power stations can also generate electricity without emitting any carbon into the atmosphere. 

Boosting the job market

An ‘industrial cluster’ in North Yorkshire has formed an alliance to implement carbon capture and storage facilities that will drive clean growth in the Humber area. Power stations, along with hundreds of refineries and factories, are safeguarding 55,000 jobs in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions. 

Meanwhile, the clean energy industry is introducing new and exciting jobs to the sector, one being an alternative energy engineer. This proves that the UK’s net-zero carbon goal will be achieved through the collective effort of major players in conventional energy and new players on the renewable energy front - such as RWE Renewables. 

Rising popularity of clean energy projects

The decline in the cost of renewable technology, combined with an increase in investment means that more clean energy projects are taking to the stage than ever. Energy consultancy, PX Group, reported that in 2019 there were 269 planning applications for clean energy projects – wind, solar and bioenergy in particular – which is a steady increase from 204 in the previous year. The consultancy describes this hike in project applications to be a response from the energy companies to meet the increasing demand for clean energy. And the recent lift on the banning of subsidising onshore projects means we expect to see a surge in project investment in this area too.

How RWE are investing in the future of energy

Did you know that RWE supplies 10-15% of the UK’s electricity? We understand the importance of protecting our country’s energy supply which is why RWE Generation produce electricity from biomass and hydropower along with our gas-fired stations – which happens to be the fourth largest in Europe. Meanwhile, with 1.5 billion euros being invested in offshore and onshore wind as well as photovoltaics, RWE Renewables continues to be our powerhouse of the future. Find out more about RWE here.
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