Europe Surges Ahead in Renewables & IBM Goes from Big Blue to Green

Europe Surges Ahead in Renewables & IBM Goes from Big Blue to Green

Renewables account for 62% of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the European Union countries in 2009, and the continent  is on target generate approximately 35-40% of overall electricity consumption from renewables by 2020. Depending on the success of community energy efficiency policies, this would meet the 20% target of all energy generated. Meanwhile, if there’s any tech company that has been able to constantly transform itself over the past century to actually be sustainable, it’s got to be IBM. So says Reuters Green Gauge of companies.
From the European Commission Joint Research Centre (5 July 2010):

Renewables account for 62 percent of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU in 2009

In 2009, and in absolute terms, about 19.9% (608 TWh) of Europe’s total electricity consumption (3042 TWh) came from renewable energy sources. Hydro power contributed with the largest share (11.6%), followed by wind (4.2%), biomass (3.5%), and solar (0.4%).

With regards to the new capacity constructed that same year (27.5 GW), among the renewable sources, 37.1% was wind power, 21% photovoltaics (PV), 2.1% biomass, 1.4% hydro and 0.4% concentrated solar power, whereas the rest were gas fired power stations (24%), coal fired power stations (8.7%), oil (2.1%), waste incineration (1.6%) and nuclear (1.6%).

As not all installed technologies operate continuously 24 hours a day, figure 2 shows the expected yearly energy output (TWh) from the new capacity. The new gas-fired electricity plants will deliver yearly 28 TWh, followed by wind and PV with 20 TWh and 5.6 TWh, respectively.

If current growth rates are maintained, in 2020 up to 1400 TWh of electricity could be generated from renewable sources, the report concludes. This would account for approximately 35-40% of overall electricity consumption in the EU, depending on the success of community policies on electricity efficiency, and would contribute significantly to the fulfilment of the 20% target for energy generation from renewables.

However, it also advises that some issues need to be resolved if the targets are to be met. Particular areas of focus include ensuring fair access to grids, substantial public R&D support, and the adaptation of current electricity systems to accommodate renewable electricity. The study highlights that cost reduction and accelerated implementation will depend on the production volume and not on time.

Summary of 2010 snapshot findings

Wind energy: with more than 74 GW of total installed capacity in 2009, it has already exceeded the 2010 white paper target of 40 GW by more than 80%. The European Wind Association’s new target aims for 230 GW of installed capacity (40 GW offshore) by 2020, capable of providing about 20% of Europe’s electricity demand.

Biomass: if current growth continues, electricity output from biomass could double from 2008 to 2010 (from 108 TWh to 200 TWh). However, other energy uses such as heat and transport fuels compete for this particular source, which could potentially hinder the development of bioelectricity. Being storable for use on demand increases its importance as a source of electricity.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP): installed capacity is still relatively small in Europe: 0.430 GW in May 2010, about 0.5% of the total, but is steadily increasing. An estimated 30 GW could be installed by 2020 if the European Solar Industry Initiative ESII is realised. Most CSP projects currently under construction are located in Spain.

Solar Photovoltaic: since 2003, the total installed capacity has doubled each year. In 2009 it reached 16 GW, which represents 2% of the overall capacity. The growth will continue, as for 2010, installations of up to 10 GW are expected. Solar photovoltaic has also exceeded the capacity predictions formulated by in the EU white paper on renewable sources of energy.

Other sources of power: technologies such as geothermal, tidal and wave power are still at the R&D stage, so they have not yet been included in the Renewable Energy Snapshots. Yet, they are likely to be introduced to the market within the next decade. As far as hydro generation is concerned, no major increase is expected, as most of the resources are already in use. However, pumped hydro will play an increasingly important role as in a storage capacity for the other renewable energy resources.


The JRC has produced the annual Renewable Energy Snapshots since 2007 to give an up-to-date picture of the EU’s progress towards the binding target of 20% for energy generation from renewable sources by 2020.

These Renewable Energy Snapshots are based on two types of data: official figures from EU countries or EUROSTAT and those provided by industry associations, research industries, etc.

This second type is known as “grey” data. It consists of more recent, unconsolidated data, which are needed for such an early analysis. They are cross-checked, consulted and validated by the JRC.

However, due to the methodology of collection, values might deviate and there is therefore a margin of uncertainty which should be taken into account.


Reuters: The Green Gauge (5 July 2010):

If there’s any tech company that has been able to constantly transform itself over the past century to actually be sustainable, it’s got to be IBM.

Last week the global IT giant announced its efficiency figures for 2009 and it meant good news for the environment, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.

Selections of companies were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines June 19 to July 2 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.


In its latest environmental report which was published last week, IBM announced not only that it had exceeded its internal environmental targets by reducing CO2 emissions by 142,000 tons and electricity consumption by 246,000 MwH, but also that the company’s 1900 energy conservation projects had led to a savings of $26.8 million during 2009.  The results are consistent with IBM’s own emphasis upon the positive material impacts of environmental investments in the company’s green IT marketing campaign.

 General Electric

General Electric announced it will double its investment for its “ecomagination” products to $10 billion over the next 5 years.  Its environmental line of products, which includes wind turbines, battery technologies, and more energy efficient appliances, has generated $70 billion in sales since its launch in 2005.  Although the unit failed to meet its 2010 target of $25 billion in annual sales by 2010, it nonetheless generated sales growth of 6 percent in 2009, ahead of the overall company’s flat sales growth for the year.  GE has indicated that it sees the greatest opportunities in China and South Korea, where government stimulus packages include significant investments in energy efficiency initiatives.

 Ingram Micro, Inc.

Ingram Micro announced that it had become the first technology distribution company to be included as a partner company in the EPA’s Climate Leaders program.  The Climate Leaders program works with companies to develop comprehensive strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reporting on progress and sharing best practices.   A full list of the Climate Leaders is available here.

 Royal DSM, N.V.

The Dutch chemical company DSM announced last week a breakthrough in enzyme technology which could lead to the doubling of the effectiveness of using yeast to convert biological waste into bioethanol.  The company claims that its new enzyme technology is an important step in developing cost efficient second generation biofuels which do not compete with traditional food supplies, and which UBS has estimated could represent an $80 billion market by 2022.

 Costco Wholesale

Greenpeace has taken a more aggressive stance against Costco, recently hanging a banner from one of the company’s outlets in Vancouver, Canada with replicas of at-risk fish species that the retailer sells.  The action follows Costco’s last-place ranking in a report published by Greenpeace Canada earlier in the month of June which examines the policies of Canadian food retailers for sustainable sourcing of sea food.  Greenpeace claims that Costco is unique among food retailers in Canada for failing to adopt any policy on purchasing seafood from sustainable sources.  A copy of the report is available for download  here.

 IOI Berhard

The Malaysian palm oil giant IOI has recently come under additional criticism from the large Swiss grocery chain, Migros, which has launched a formal complaint against the company following investigative reports by the BBC and a recent critical report by Friends of the Earth on the company’s palm oil practices in Western Kalimantan, Indonesia.  Although IOI is a leading member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, the report accuses the company’s practices to be in violation of the Roundtable’s principles as well as Indonesian national law.   A copy of the report is available  here.


NGOs Greenpeace and Ecotricity have strongly criticized EDF’s recent “Green Britain Day” event, and claim that the company is misleading the UK public over its environmental performance.  Both NGOs argue that the company is one of Britain’s most significant polluters, importing 300 million tons of coal annually and producing over 1,400 tons of nuclear waste, while EDF defends its nuclear energy program as an effective means of reducing overall CO2 emissions.  The disagreement underscores the currently conflicting views regarding the status of nuclear power as a means of addressing climate change.


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