The Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, WIREC 2008, drew to a close yesterday. More than 100 pledges from more than 40 countries were made to promote and foster renewable energy development during the international three-day gathering, which included top-level government energy officials as well as representatives from regional and local public institutions and from industry and finance.
New Zealand made the remarkable pledge that 90% of its electricity would come from renewable sources by 2025. Renewable sources currently provide between 65% – 70% of New Zealand’s electricity.
To realize this goal the NZ government plans to introduce emissions trading and renewable “preference” legislation, place a 10-year restriction on new baseload fossil fuel thermal electricity generation, develop a National Policy Statement, address transmission grid integration and generation planning issues and establish a Marine Energy Deployment Fund and Low Carbon Energy Technologies Fund. Other initiatives will include incentives to promote development and use of small scale and distributed renewable energy and power generation technology.
Denmark – another country already well on its way along the renewable energy path – pledged to increase renewable energy’s share of its electrical power supply to a minimum 30% by 2025. Australia pledged to meet a 20% target by 2020 as part of its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Brazil pledged to maintain the 45% share of energy supply renewable sources currently provide, as well as take steps to diversify its renewable energy sources.
From the host country, the U.S. Dept. of Energy made a series of substantial pledges. Among them, the DoE promised to increase renewable fuel usage to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Through the Landfill Methane Outreach Program, it will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 560 landfills by 24 million tons in 2012 and produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity – enough for 1.2 million households.
In addition, the DoE pledged to lower electricity costs from large on-shore wind systems to 3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2012 and those from offshore wind systems to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2014. It also pledged to make solar energy cost competitive with conventional electricity sources by 2015 – bringing PV (photovoltaic) technology costs down to between 5 cents and 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The DoE also said it will issue $10 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency systems, manufacturing and distributed energy generation, transmission and distribution.
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture pledged to produce or save 682 million kilowatts of energy in fiscal 2008 by assisting small businesses in rural communities to create jobs, develop markets for woody biomass culled from national forests, foster the development of conservation and cultivation of switchgrass for cellulosic ethanol production and increase demand for bio-based products.
For its part, the Dept. of State pledged to provide an additional 48 megawatts of clean renewable power in India through the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.
Follow this link to view a summary of uni-, bi- and multi-lateral pledges made during the conference.