Europe has the capacity to generate enough renewable electricity to meet its demands. But, the distribution of sources has enforced a major problem.
FREMONT, CA: Ample solar and wind resources exist in Europe to meet its electricity demand completely from renewable sources. The researchers at the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) recently conducted a study, which depicted that several regions can efficiently meet their electricity demand using systems based particularly on renewables. Its development would, however, exacerbate the land-use pressure in the surroundings of metropolitan areas and larger conurbations.
The results show how difficult harvesting renewable energy is in highly populated areas and cities like Berlin, to supply enough to equalise the demand from renewables sources of energy. The advancements in the technology have now made it feasible to meet the demands in metropolitan areas if the surrounding regions joined forces. The rural and urban areas with extensive rural hinterlands can be fed with enough electricity demand solely from renewable sources. Almost 75 percent of the municipalities can access ample solar and wind resources to meet the annual demand for electricity.
• Achieving Electricity Autarky On All Four Administrative Levels:
The availability of the sufficient open surfaces on land for the utilisation in the generation of energy contributes to the development of self-sufficient, regenerative electricity supply. The scientists collated data to recognise the eligible areas and surfaces to determine renewable electricity yields at different levels like continental, national, regional and municipal levels. Many scientists have identified the technical potential of roof-mounted and ground-level photovoltaic systems, along with onshore and offshore wind turbines and other renewable sources via analysis conducted on the availability and eligibility of land areas. The analysis takes into account the existing land cover and the area of the land utilised by the towns along with agricultural use. This survey also includes altitudes, the local climatic conditions that could inhibit the generation of electricity from renewable sources. The study enabled the scientists to determine the potential yield of electricity accurately but considering the technical constraints.
The full technical potential will not be exploited if the energy systems of the future are sustainable and enjoy a widespread acceptance across society. The authors demonstrated that the social and technical potential of renewable electricity is more significant than any demand at continental and national levels in line with the previous surveys conducted. In light of this, the researchers excluded the nature reserves and arable land where the solar energy would harm the agricultural activities. To achieve electricity autarky at the sub-national level, the regions would need to assign large shares and sometimes contribute the entire undeveloped land to electricity generation from renewable energies.
• The Europe Prospectus:
In case of application of socio-technical constraints, the resulting potential electricity output throughout Europe will exceed 15,000 TWh/a, which is the quadrupled value of the present generation rate. Europe has the capacity to generate enough electricity from renewable sources to successfully achieve electricity autarky at the continental scale and in each country.
The lowest level of reciprocity is identified as the area within the city borders and gradually exhibits a rise in potential at municipal and regional limits. For example, Oslo depicts the lowest relative potential, as less than a quarter of the city’s demand for electricity is fulfilled through local energy generated from renewable sources. Various urban areas also lack sufficient social and technical potential, like the Île-de-France (Paris), Dublin and Berlin. But, most of these cities possess the capacity to achieve electricity autarky by collaborating with the surrounding regions to build self-sufficient metropolitan areas. The research also describes that the pursuit of local autarky can penetrate the generation of electricity into a particular area of the already densely populated metros.
The intensive local land use on the one hand and the acknowledgement of imports collectively, on the other hand, need to maintain a delicate balance to realise self-sufficiency. The scope for greater co-operation with other municipalities, regions, and countries in Europe has an enormous range too says one of the researchers. But, in principle, total self-sufficiency by renewable electricity is 100 per cent possible on all levels of the administration from continental to regional and more times than not in municipal levels too. The mechanism of electricity trading should be established among regions and countries.