Top energy news stories from 2014

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As 2014 draws to a close, let’s look back at some of the top news stories from the energy industry:

Texas shone in the solar industry

Our state is no slouch when it comes to solar innovation. The sun shines bright on the Lone Star state, and in 2014 Texans made the most of it. The solar industry in our state made strides toward generating more sustainable energy this past year, and some of the top accomplishments deserve additional kudos as the year draws to a close.

In February, we applauded as The Solar Foundation reported that Texas ranks sixth in the nation for solar energy employment, having added nearly 1,000 jobs in 2013. In March, the San Antonio Express News reported that Alamo City is the only Texas metropolis on a recently released list of top 10 cities for solar power, placing 10th with its solar capacity of 35.4 watts per person.

Texas Public Radio reported in July that a solar farm near San Antonio had come up with a creative and green way to keep grass trimmed around the solar panels on its 50-acre site. The company brought in 90 sheep to trim hard-to-reach areas the old fashioned way – by eating! And in September, the Daily Texan reported that the University of Texas, Austin placed two solar-charging stations on campus near the library and art building/museum. The stations offer twelve 110-volt electrical outlets and six USB charging ports, generating free WiFi.

Renewable energy sources gaining around the globe

With oil prices – and consequently gas prices – lower than they’ve been in years, countries around the world are still striving toward oil independence. Use of renewable energy sources is gaining around the world.

In November, the BBC reported that for the first time in the country’s history, Scotland was getting most of its power from renewable wind and hydro power. Lang Banks, director of environmental group WWF Scotland told the BBC that “wind turbines in Scotland alone generated enough electricity to supply 3 million homes in the (United Kingdom) – equivalent to 126% of the electricity needs of every home north of the border.”

Released earlier this year, the Renewables 2014 Global Status Report by the global Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, indicated that the world overall is making strides toward greater use of renewable energy sources. The report found “significant growth” in the power sector, where global capacity from renewable energy increased 8% between 2012 and 2013. The report found that more than half of net additions to global power capacity in 2013 came from renewable sources.

Progress even occurred in unexpected quarters. Science Daily reports that China – which accounts for 30% of the world’s carbon emissions – recently pledged it will curb emissions growth over the next 15 years to improve its energy efficiency and increase its use of non-fossil fuels to generate energy.

Wrapping up the year, looking ahead

From greater use of wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy sources to technological improvements that will make solar power more efficient and available, cars more fuel-efficient, and lighting more eco-friendly than ever before, there were just too many good news stories to highlight them all. Your take-away for 2015 is that the world – and our little corner of it – is heading in the right direction toward greener, more efficient energy for everyone.