Q & A: Energy Transformation

Fossil fuels provide the backbone of the world’s energy supply. Energy from renewable sources is destined to take over this role in the future. Answering 5 pressing questions, DEKRA solutions provides insights into the direction of current trends, and how all of us can help shape the energy revolution.

A modern house does produce more energy than it needs itself. Photo: Julia Mischke

1 Who is investing in renewable energy?

The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) ascertained that global new investment in renewable energies quadrupled in the period between 2005 and 2015. Investment capital rose from 72.7 to 286 billion US dollars. European investment peaked in 2011, with the record sum of 122.9 billion
US dollars. Following this, however, investment then collapsed by 60 per cent in the years preceding 2015. For the last four years, China has been at the forefront
of renewable energy investment. Chinese capital has risen by a factor of twelve in the observed period. Due to alternating investment interest, the USA slid from second to fourth place. The tens of billions of dollars invested in these technologies in almost all regions do, however, point towards a revolution. Brazil is an exception, as the country has heavily relied on hydroelectric energy for many years.

2 What is the cost of a kilowatt-hour?

For their 2016 report, the International Energy Agency (iea) examined the energy costs in selected member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to the report, costs for household electricity are lowest in Mexico. The Mexicans pay less than eight US cents per kilowatt-hour. Electricity in Canada is also rather relatively affordable, at merely a third of what the German consumer pays. And that is despite comparable purchasing power. With each kilowatt-hour costing 33 US cents, Germany is among the most expensive countries in the international comparison. High taxes and duties are to blame for this, accounting for 55 per cent of the overall cost of electricity.

3 How much energy does a country use?

Generally, countries produce enough electricity to fulfil their own needs. Emerging nation Morocco and economic superpower China have not yet achieved this equilibrium – energy usage exceeds domestic production. Yet each Chinese citizen only just use a third of the electricity consumed by the average American. While in China, economic growth is the main driver, energy-intensive air conditioning units contribute to the high energy usage in the US. Almost 74 per cent of the USA’s energy is generated from fossil fuels, and only a tenth of it coming from regenerative sources. In Germany, the ratio is almost one-to-one, with both sources accounting for over 40 per cent.

4 How do I make my house more efficient?

By using compatible components, even residential buildings in temperate climates can now generate more energy than they use themselves. Ignoring the one-off energy expenditure of building the house, such new buildings aren’t merely energy efficient, low-consumption houses, but actually create more power than they themselves use. Energy-oriented refurbishments of existing buildings can reduce their consumption by up to 80 per cent, according to information from Germany’s Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (Reconstruction Loan Corporation). Even the implementation of individual solutions can improve buildings’ energy footprint. Airtight, insulated roofing protects from both hot and cold temperatures, while solar energy systems – coupled with batteries – can enable full independence from the grid. (Find out more at: www.dekra.de/en/energie)

5 What efficient heating systems are there?

There are a range of especially efficient space and water heating system options available on the market – operating on either fossil fuels or regenerative energy sources. We provide an overview of seven such systems:

heating systems

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