As climate change sceptic Donald Trump settles into his presidency, concerns about the future of clean energy in America are more than justified.
But in the EU, 2017 has gotten off to a flying start as figures reveal that over 90 per cent of new power in 2016 came from renewable sources.
With more windfarms being installed across the region, most notably in Germany, wind energy has now overtaken coal and sits as the EU’s second largest form of power capacity.
It puts the sustainable energy industry on much steadier ground, although there are fears that support from national governments will lessen over the next few years as binding EU climate change targets come to an end in 2020.
As such, the wind industry is still lobbying for more long-term commitment to renewable power from key leaders and political figures.
The UK’s standing
But whilst the EU as a whole is making a significant move towards a cleaner future, the UK is falling behind.
In a ranking of European states, the UK sits at 24th out of 28th, with only 8.2 per cent of its energy coming from renewable sources – well below the EU’s average of 16.4 per cent.
And it’s not difficult to pinpoint the areas that need improving.
Whilst 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable energy, it’s not being utilised for transport or heating.
Still relying on traditional sources of power, vehicles and home heating systems are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – and with London’s air pollution levels triggering alerts, in recent days, it’s becoming a serious problem.
Getting political support for clean energy
Again, a lack of political support is cited as one of biggest roadblocks to clean power. Just look the solar industry, where the UK government’s proposed tax hikes are wreaking havoc on what was fast becoming the country’s cheapest form of sustainable energy.
But it’s not just promoting renewable sources of power that’s a focus for campaigners.
There’s also increasing demand for the government to clean up and force stricter safety controls on traditional energy industries in the UK.
Most recently, there’s been a string of calls for Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to take a closer look at safety on oil rigs after a series of fire-related accidents and near-disasters at the Elgin platform.
Such incidents not only put the lives of workers in danger but can also have a profound environmental impact. With plenty of options for fire-proofing available, like Durasteel blast-proof systems, for example, ensuring safety is not difficult.
Instead, the problem protestors are aiming to highlight the government’s reluctance to take responsibility or act.
Overall, it’s the key message from the renewable energy industry no matter where you look – the UK, EU and US included.
With sustainable power sources and technology improving all the time we have the capability to move towards a much cleaner future, but only a long-term and public commitment from governments around the world will make that vision a reality.