MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE AND RENEWABLE ENERGIES

Solar activity is not the cause of climate change.

FACTS

Solar activity is not the cause of climate change.

Measurements indicate: If solar activity were a decisive factor, temperatures would have to have fallen in the past few years, not risen. Climate change is not a question of faith, but the verifiable result of decades of research. 97% of climate researchers worldwide agree that we humans cause climate change. The consequences are well known: Extreme floods, droughts, increasingly violent hurricanes, rockfalls and mudflows. No wonder when you consider that the average temperature in parts of Styria has already risen by 3.6 degrees compared to the pre-industrial age. The 2 degrees of the Paris Climate Agreement have thus already been significantly exceeded in Austria.

The claim that the climate has often changed is not wrong. Many factors have influenced our climate at different times. However, research clearly shows that none of these natural climate factors can be held responsible for recent developments and the observed rise in temperature. The natural factors should even have led to a slight cooling in recent years. It is therefore undeniable that human influences are currently heating up the earth. The greenhouse effect caused by the release of CO2 stored in fossil fuels leads to a warming of the lower atmosphere up to an altitude of approx. 10 km, where, on the other hand, the temperature continuously decreases on average over 10 km, which was to be expected due to the lower solar activity.

Following the withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Climate Agreement, climate change mitigation is no longer taken seriously.

FACTS

No, this is not true. The clock can no longer be turned back. The announced withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Climate Agreement will certainly not facilitate its’ implementation. However, numerous reactions and climate protection declarations from many US states indicate that individual states, many cities and corporations have ambitious goals which makes the reversal of ongoing trends e.g. due to non-acknowledgement from the central government, neither possible nor desirable.

The example of California – where Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian, has successfully declared war on the old technologies based on fossil fuels – demonstrates that more economic success is possible with renewable energies. Here, too, the focus was not only on electric mobility, but also on H2 technologies. California is now more successful than its’ neighbours Arizona, Utah or New Mexico combined. Why shouldn’t something similar be possible in Pongau, Salzburg or Austria?

Not only in terms of climate change mitigation, but also in terms of economic viability, non-renewable energy production is losing competitiveness against green energies. Also, fully in line with the changes in the European Energy Laws, renewable generation enables us to produce where energy is needed – and each and every one of us can benefit from it. This reduces massive waste due to avoided transport losses and it enables local value addition.

Despite current market developments, one must note that energy system transformation is not a self-propelled process – it requires ambitious goals, appropriate framework conditions and pro-active behaviour of all humans on the planet – especially of those who are able to afford it.

Renewable energies will remain only a marginal phenomenon on the global energy market for the coming decades. Fossil fuels and nuclear energy will continue to dominate.

FAKTEN

Renewable energies as a growth market

According to IRENA, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW (of which ~1/2 is hydro) at the end of 2018 – around a third of globally installed electricity capacity. 2018 saw global additions of 171 gigawatts (~2/3 of total added capacity), with emerging and developing economies in the lead. While Asia accounted for 61 per cent of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4 per cent, growth was fastest in Oceania that witnessed a 17.7 per cent rise in 2018. Africa’s 8.4 per cent growth put it in third place just behind Asia.

Photovoltaics in particular records significant growth because the prices for panels and electronics have once again fallen substantially in recent years. Today, the kilowatt hour of PV electricity is already cheaper than that purchased via a supplier, and with the break-up of the electricity network at the end of 2018, this imbalance is expected to intensify even further.

Over the next five years, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the capacity extension of renewable to increase by 43% or 920 gigawatts. This corresponds to almost half of the total global capacity from coal (approx. 2,000 gigawatts), which took 80 years to build.

Due to the cost reduction in setting up new renewable energy generation, significantly more capacity can be built with the same average annual investments – these have recently remained constant (annual average of around US$ 300 billion over 7 years). Austria has great opportunities to participate in this global market, but it needs initiative and a clear course in Europe and Austria in order to count on establishing a strong the home- and reference market.