Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Small in size, but Big in thinking

Two small nations on opposite sides of the globe are building world class renewable energy proejcts. In Portugal they’re constructing what will become, temporarily at least, the largest solar generating plant on earth. It’s going into eastern Portugal near the town of Moura. This photovoltaic farm is being built in the sunniest spot in continental Europe. Portugal aims to generate over 30% of its own power from renewable sources by the year 2020. It’s already among the leaders in Europe. Here are the European top five, by percentage from renewable sources:
Sweden 2005 39.8%, target by 2020 49%
Latvia 34.9%, target 42%
Finland 28.5%, target 38%
Austria 23.3%, target 34%
Portugal 20.5%, target 31%.
Worst is the UK with less than 2% renewable, lagging even behind relatively impoverished Cyprus.


In the southern hemisphere New Zealand is bereft of coal and oil. Like many island nations they are turning to the sea: wave power to be exact. One of the first projects to be deployed will be at Kaipara Harbor on the North Island. It would place turbines on the harbor floor and they would be driven by tidal flow.

It’s only one of several ocean-powered projects slated for New Zealand. The reports there take heart in the fact that an Irish company is now generating electricity with wave power in Scotland. The firm is OpenHydro which could be providing technology and components for the Kaipara project.

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