Although we are well into January now, we thought it worth looking back at some of the remarkable achievements of 2023. In the latest instalment of our Sustainable Success Stories series, we dive into some of the significant strides taken in renewable energy in 2023. From a surge in global renewable energy capacity to impressive achievements closer to home in the UK, the year brought a wave of positive developments. Join us as we explore three inspiring news stories that unfolded in 2023, each contributing to the collective effort towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.
World’s Renewable Energy Capacity Grew at Record Pace
In 2023, we witnessed an unprecedented surge in the global adoption of renewable energy sources, with a record-breaking increase in renewable energy capacity. This monumental growth can be attributed to concerted efforts by governments, businesses, and communities worldwide to transition away from traditional fossil fuels.
According to figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA), capacity grew by 50% last year to 510 gigawatts. This was the 22nd consecutive year of record-setting growth. This unprecedented growth is a healthy sign that targets set at last November’s Cop28 talks will be in reach. As part of their 5 main climate policies, member states agreed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.
Around three-quarters of last year’s new renewable energy capacity came from solar power, mostly in China, where they installed more solar power in 2023 than the whole world did in 2022.
The transition towards renewable energy is a testament to the collective commitment to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions. As the world faced the challenges posed by climate change, countries embraced clean energy solutions, contributing to a more sustainable and resilient future.
Read more in this report from the Guardian.
Rooftop Solar Panels Soar to a 12-Year High in the UK
Closer to home, the United Kingdom celebrated a significant milestone in its renewable energy journey. The installation of rooftop solar panels reached a 12-year high in 2023, with nearly 190,000 installations, marking the highest since government subsidy cuts in 2011. This achievement is a testament to the growing awareness and commitment of UK residents and businesses towards harnessing solar power for a sustainable future.
Heat pump installations also hit a record high of almost 40,000, a 25% increase from the previous year. The total certified heat pumps in the country now exceed 200,000. The late surge in heat pump demand followed a government increase in grants from £5,000 to £7,500 in October.
Although there is still a long way to go until the UK can reach its targets, last year was a clear indication that businesses and consumers are ready to invest in renewables, when given support by the government. Industry experts emphasise the need for government action, including moving tariffs from energy bills to general taxation to reduce electricity costs and promote heat pump usage. The solar industry was optimistic, with plans for a roadmap to deliver 70GW of capacity in collaboration with the government-industry solar taskforce.
This surge in rooftop solar installations aligns with the UK's ambitious goals to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, demonstrating that sustainable energy solutions are not only feasible but also economically viable on a large scale.
Read more here.
Canary Island's Renewable Triumph: Powered by Wind and Water
Across the seas, the Canary Islands emerged as a beacon of inspiration in the pursuit of 100% clean energy. In a captivating story, the El Hierro community showcased its commitment to sustainability by running entirely on renewable energy sources.
El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands, has achieved a remarkable record by relying solely on wind and water power for 28 consecutive days. As the only island globally to accomplish this feat, El Hierro, declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and Geopark, is on track to achieve 100% energy self-sufficiency through clean, renewable sources.
The Gorona del Viento hydroelectric power station, with 11.5 MW wind power capacity, is the island's primary source of electricity. Using a combination of wind and pumped storage hydroelectric generation, the station pumps water to a reservoir using excess wind energy, later utilising it to generate hydropower. El Hierro's commitment to sustainability dates back to a 1996 development plan, and its renewable energy journey began in earnest in 2015. The island channels profits from renewable energy into enhancing water distribution, solar panels, and educational programs. Recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2000, El Hierro showcases the viability of renewable energy for isolated territories worldwide, contributing to the conservation of biodiversity while promoting sustainable use.
El Hierro's journey serves as a reminder that sustainable practices can be implemented on a local scale, contributing to a global movement towards a greener, more sustainable future.
Find out more here.
By reflecting on the good news stories of 2023, we can start the new year, safe in the knowledge that progress is being made towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly future. From the global surge in renewable energy capacity to the UK's rooftop solar revolution and a small island’s inspiring renewable triumph, each story contributes to a narrative of hope and progress.
These achievements underscore the importance of collective efforts in the transition to clean energy and sustainable practices. As we move forward, it is crucial to build upon the momentum gained in 2023, setting even more ambitious goals and embracing innovative solutions to address the challenges posed by climate change. The stories of 2023 serve as beacons of inspiration, guiding us towards a future where renewable energy is not just an option but a global imperative.
At OAK Network, we are trying to provide businesses with a solution to energy sustainability. Get in touch to find out how we can become your good news story of 2024.