By Julia Hawkins, Ashden PR and Digital Media Manager
Alright, I admit it, I am now unable to see the world in any way other than through the prism of the London Olympics. And in keeping with my new-found obsession, in an idle moment I decided to work out who might win Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in a global renewable energy race.
Delving into the latest figures produced by the BP Statistical Review of World Energy I looked at how much of each country’s electricity consumption derives from the three main renewable energy sources: solar, wind and hydro.
And – wait for it – the results are:
Joint Gold: Italy and Spain (3.26%)
Bronze: Germany (3.09%)
Gold: Norway 95%
Silver: Brazil 86%
Bronze: Columbia 82%
Gold: Denmark 28.26%
Silver: Spain 15.5%
Bronze: Germany 7.57%
Of course, these results should be treated with caution for several reasons. For a start, they refer to the proportion of electricity usage that’s accounted for by the three different sources of energy, rather than the proportion of all energy used.
Second, while they might offer some clues, in themselves they don’t necessarily indicate broad government support for renewable energy. For example, the staggering hydro figures for Norway, Brazil and Columbia are more likely to be down to topography than politics – though the Danish government’s support for wind power is well known and hence its gold medal well-earned.
Third, the hydro power that these countries generate is likely to be provided by large plants – which sometimes have negative social and economic impacts – rather than the local, sustainable micro-hydro programmes that we are passionate about at Ashden.
Finally, the figures are a snapshot in time rather than revealing trends. For example, they don’t reveal huge increases in wind capacity in China and the USA in recent years, which would push them both to the top of our medals table.
Want to know where the UK comes? Well, I'm afraid to say we're in a shambolic 49th place (1.6% of electricity use) on hydro power and a slightly more encouraging 4th place (4.32%) on wind. Solar figures aren't available for the UK – possibly because the numbers involved are so small.
Whatever the caveats, the message to Team GB should surely be 'Must try harder!'