Simon Close, Coventry entrepreneur and business leader, highlights a recent article from Resource Magazine, which reveals some surprising facts about renewable energy use—and energy emission trends—in the European Union. The article notes that, according to the European Environment Agency, greenhouse gas emissions from the 27 EU member states declined in 2011. This is in spite of the fact that these nations also saw the second largest decline in consumption of renewable energy in more than two decades. Close has issued a new statement to the press, expanding on this data and offering his own commentary on energy use in the EU, and specifically in the UK.
Simon Close, Coventry business owner, is someone with a passion for renewable energy, and a burning desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in his native UK. He currently serves as the director of Renewable Micro solutions, a business that specializes in the production of combined heat power. In his new press statement, Close says that he is encouraged by the decline in greenhouse gas emissions, but concerned over the falling interest in renewable energy. “Investment is needed to help grow renewable energy consumption,” he says. “Without further sustained investment the EU will see a steady increase in our overall carbon footprint.”
He then points back to the data from the EEA, which claims that emissions in 2011 were more than 18 percent below 1990 levels—4550.2 million tons as opposed to 5574.4 million tons. When international aviation is accounted for, the number is 17 percent lower—still significant improvement.
This reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is actually more significant than the previous estimates released by the EEA, just last year. Reports Resource, “The agency stated that this was due to ‘complete and final energy data’ not being available when the original estimates were published.”
According to the EEA, this reduction was due in large part to a relatively mild winter, which resulted in a lowered demand for heating. Emission levels in 2011 were about 3.3 percent lower than those from 2010.
Also noteworthy is the finding that nearly two thirds of 2011’s emissions reductions (62 percent) are attributed to the UK, France, and Germany; the largest emission increases, however, come from Romania, Bulgaria, and Spain.
Despite all of these positive findings, however, Resource notes that “the consumption of energy from renewable sources suffered the second largest decline in percentage terms since 1990.” The EEA notes that this is likely due to a significantly lowered rate of hydroelectric energy production; however, wind and solar energy consumption actually did increase significantly in 2011.
As Simon Close, Coventry business owner, notes, however, the overall state of Britain’s environmental impact is not exactly positive. Resource notes a recent report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which finds “that despite a decline in the level of carbon emissions produced in the UK, the British carbon footprint has actually increased by 10 [percent] over the last two decades, due to the rise of imported goods.”
Resource goes on to note some related statistics that verify this report. For example, fossil fuel has actually fallen by five percent across the European Union. With that said, the average carbon intensity of those fossil fuels increased. The EEA claims that solid fuel consumption—such as hard coal and lignite—rose by 2 percent between 2010 and 2011.
“What all of these findings and statistics seem to indicate is that there is a bit of an ebb and flow in how citizens within the EU use energy, which accounts for a momentary decrease in greenhouse emissions,” notes Simon Close, Coventry entrepreneur. “This trends is likely no trend at all, but rather indicates something like a particularly mild winter. The big picture shows that we are not becoming any smarter or more responsible with our energy consumption, which is why our carbon footprint continues to increase.”
The data from the EAA does not extend past 2011, at this point, but the agency has stated that other pieces of information provide some insight into what 2012 might look like. This data suggests some good news, including the fact that “greenhouse gas emissions in sectors covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (which covers approximately 40 [percent[ of the total EU greenhouse gas emissions) fell by two [percent] between 2011 and 2012.”
The Resource article also notes that “early estimates based on monthly energy statistics of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion (covering approximately 80 [per cent] of EU total greenhouse gas emissions) also point to a 2.1 [percent] decrease between 2011 and 2012.”
“Again, none of this is bad news at all, and it does provide some reason to celebrate,” Close remarks. “The bigger question, though, is whether this speaks to a long-term energy trend—a trend away from greenhouse emissions and toward renewable energy use—or whether it is a blip on the radar. Unfortunately, much of this evidence seems to suggest that there is no overarching trend in play here, but rather what we are seeing are some momentary fluctuations.”
A final set of statistics, mentioned in the article, involved nuclear power. According to Resource, nuclear power has decreased, largely thanks to the closure of plants throughout Germany.
Resource notes that the official EU greenhouse gas inventory, covering the year 2012, will not be available until May of 2014. “Let us hope that when these statistics are made public, they suggest a real long-term trend toward smarter, more conservative energy consumption, and also that business owners in the UK are encouraged to do more to invest in renewable energy sources,” comments Close.
Simon Close, Coventry businessman, is a long-time advocate for renewable energy.
Simon Close, Coventry business professional, is the director of Renewable Micro Solutions, a company that specializes in combined heat power technology— that is, using gas boilers to generate heat but also using alternators to generate electricity. Previously, he has amassed much entrepreneurial experience, launching restaurants and bars throughout the Coventry area.