Geothermal power is among the energy sources being investigated on RÃ©union. Photo by FrÃ©dÃ©ric CaillÃ©.
When Al Gore challenged the United States to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2018, I'm not sure if many people took him literally. A nice goal perhaps, but one which is likely to be delayed a number of years seemed to be the general buzz. Any renewable energy targets announced since then municipalities or states fall well short of Gore's goal.
RÃ©union To Go All Green by 2025, For Electricity
Well, it may not be doing so explicitly, but in spirit the Indian Ocean island of RÃ©union (a French territory) has taken up the gauntlet and has announced a goal not too far off of Al Gore's vision: By 2025 all of the electricity on the island will be generated from renewable sources. By 2050, all of its transport will be also use renewable energy.
A Variety of Energy Sources to be Deployed
Reuters reports that already 36% of RÃ©union's electricity comes from renewables—mostly hydro-electric and biomass in the form of sugar cane fiber. Now the island is looking to expand it's energy portfolio by 750 MW of solar PV, 120 MW of hydro and 60 MW of wind power. Hydrogen, geothermal and ocean power are also being investigated.
Increasing Per Capita Energy Use a Problem
In addition to the island's growing population (an additional 200,000 people by 2030, added to an existing population of 800,000), RÃ©union faces another challenge to going all green which is common throughout the world: Changing expectations of material consumption. In this case increasing use of air conditioning.
Part of the problem: The growing use of non-traditional concrete architecture, which holds much more heat than the traditional wood architecture of the island. This has led, in part, to per capita energy consumption growing by 5% a year.
According to the RÃ©union Regional Energy Agency, air conditioning use accounts for 80% of office electric bills.
:: Reuters has more on RÃ©union's efforts to increase renewable energy usage for electricity, as well as the challenges it faces in greening its transportation.
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