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Action needed to avoid catastrophic climate change

16 April 2014

The latest study from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that carbon dioxide and other climate-changing gases have increased in recent years despite efforts to tackle global warming.

Substantial reductions in greenhouse gases will be needed, through large-scale changes to energy supplies and use, as well as curbing deforestation and planting forests.

Emissions need to be cut by 40 to 70% on 2010 levels by the middle of the century and to near zero by 2100, to make it likely temperatures will not go above 2C, the report will warn.

This will require a shift from investment in fossil fuel and a three- or four-fold increase by 2050 in the share of energy from low-carbon sources such as renewables, nuclear and power plants fitted with technology to capture and store carbon underground.

Without action, climate change would increasingly threaten security, health and food supplies exacerbate poverty and damage species and habitats, while the world is at risk of temperatures soaring 3.7C to 4.8C by 2100 if greenhouse gases are not curbed.

To find more on this matter, click HERE


Public prefers wind to fracking as a next door neighbour 

14 April 2014

A new study finds 62 per cent of British people would rather live by a wind turbine than a shale gas fracking site.

The survey was conducted by YouGov involving 2,061 participants and 62% answered that they would rather have a wind farm in their local council area than a fracking project, with just 19 per cent preferring to have fracking operations nearby.

Another poll found that fracking is less popular with women than men, with just 9% of female respondents preferring the controversial gas extraction technique compared to 29% of men. Both sexes preferred wind, however: 68% of women and 56% of men selected wind over fracking.

Fracking is also far less popular with the younger generation - only 12% of those that favour fracking over wind were in the 18 to 24 bracket, while 29% were over 60.

The YouGov poll suggests wind is far more popular with their supporters than MPs have suggested - half of Conservative voters and the majority of Liberal Democrat and UKIP voters expressed a preference for wind. 

To read more on the subject, click HERE


Eric Pickles extending his period of pulling in renewable energy projects 

11 April 2014

The Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced that he will be extending his period of pulling in decisions on renewable energy projects for a further 12 months. The Secretary of State announced in October 2013 that he would recover more renewable energy projects in England for a 6 month period, so he could determine how new planning guidance was being implemented.

Mr Pickles has pulled in 33 wind projects, compromising 93% of all wind energy capacity currently at appeal in England. Of the 33, decisions have been reached on 8 projects with all but one being refused.

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith has commented “Mr Pickles’ intervention has led to further delays for developers, a couple of project withdrawals, and a court case. The fact that many of the projects he’s called in since June still haven’t had decisions shows that he’s got more than enough on his plate without adding to it, and disrupting more projects. Now is the time to let the planning system do its job - not to throw further confusion and delay into it with these anti-localism measures. His actions are also threatening the livelihoods of the nearly 19,000 people who owe their jobs to the UK’s onshore wind industry”.


To find more on the matter, click HERE.


Renewable energy on the up despite global dip in investment 

09 April 2014

A report shows that global investment in to renewable fell by 14% last year, but the percentage of electricity generated by renewable sources continued to grow. Investment fell due to cheaper technology and uncertainty surrounding energy policy.

Falling costs meant renewables accounted for 8.5% of the global electricity mix (up from 7.8% in 2012) and 43.6% of newly installed generation capacity in 2013.

More on the ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014’ report can be found HERE.


Wind Farms have 'negligible' impact on Welsh Tourism 

7 April 2014

The impact of onshore wind turbines on the tourism industry in Wales is “negligible”, according to a report commissioned by the Welsh government.

Evidence analysed by consultancies Regeneris and The Tourism Company showed that “a clear majority of people” do not react negatively to wind farms or choose to holiday elsewhere because of them.

Case studies near wind farms in Powys, Anglesey and the South Wales Valleys “have not revealed any evidence of significant impacts on tourism to date”

“The majority of visitors are positive or indifferent about wind farm development,” the study said.

The document was published by the Welsh government today and can be found HERE.


Scottish Renewables warns that axing onshore wind would cost jobs

4 April 2014

If Conservative plans to scrap onshore wind turbines go ahead, Scottish Renewables have claimed that thousands of jobs would be lost and energy bills would rocket.

Prime Minister David Cameron is considering a pledge to halt the construction of onshore turbines and apparently wants to toughen planning laws and tear up subsidy rules to make turbines less financially viable.

Find more on the story HERE and more on Conservative and green issues HERE.


Climate Change: the worst is yet to come

2 April 2014

A team of 300 scientists had reported on behalf of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the threat of climate change has risen to a whole new level. The findings of their research was published in a 32 volume report on 31st March 2014 and highlighted that the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report was produced.

"Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

The impacts of climate change have become ever more apparent and since the year 2000 killer heat waves have hit Europe, deadly floods have surged through Pakistan and sea-ice and permafrost in the Arctic has melted. The IPCC report stated that climate change will only cause more problems in the future; evidence already shows that global food stocks and crop yields are under threat, including declining wheat production and a reduction in fish catches particularly in tropical areas.

Throughout the report, the forefront of concern was the potential risk of a humanitarian crisis and the impact that food security and increasing extreme weather events are having on the poor, weak and elderly. There is little in place to prepare or protect these people and much of the world is ill-equipped to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The scientists behind this report hope that the risks outlined and evidence produced will persuade people and the government to reduce the release of harmful amounts of greenhouse gases.

More information can be found here


31st March 2014

Today, methane accounts for nearly 9 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Although this is a small figure compared to Carbon Dioxide, it is known that every ton of methane in the atmosphere has a global warming effect that is more than 20 times greater than a ton of carbon dioxide. Thus, methane reductions yield important climate benefits, particularly in the near term.

The Obama administration outlined a new strategy on Friday for addressing methane, signalling it may move to regulate a potent greenhouse gas released into the air from hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas. New strategies involve replacing leaky pipes that are a source of fugitive emissions. The full strategy can be found HERE.

Fracking has proved rather controversial so far, so will the UK follow suit in aiming to reduce harmful methane emissions?


28 March 2014

New figures from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has shown that Scotland generated a record amount of electrify from green energy last year, producing over 17,000 gigawatt hours (GWh), a 16.4% increased on 2012.

Wind power alone produced a total of 11,216 GWh of electricity, which is the highest amount on record.

The Scottish government said the figures showed it was on track to meet its target of producing 50% of the country's electricity needs from renewables by 2015, ahead of the target of producing the equivalent of 100% of needs from green sources by 2020.

To find the full article, click HERE


310 million invested in UK wind turbines

26 March 2014

Manufacturing giant Siemens and the UK's Associated British Ports are to invest a total of £310m in UK wind turbine factories, creating 1,000 jobs.

Siemens have doubled its previous plans to invest £80 million in wind turbine production in the UK.

The combined investment, with Associated British Ports, of £310 million is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs, which is 300 more than originally anticipated.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said "This deal is excellent news for the people of Hull and the Humber, the UK, the wind industry, and our energy security".

More on the investment can be found HERE


Extreme heatwaves expected to occur once a decade as climate change increases 

24 March 2014

New research has shown that communities in Southeast England are especially vulnerable to deaths in heatwaves. Researchers already know that higher temperatures increase deaths – particularly from heart attacks, strokes and respiratory illnesses – among older people. But this is the first study to see how this varies across the 376 local authorities in England and Wales. The extreme heatwave of 2003 killed tens of thousands of people across Europe, but is expected to occur once a decade as climate change increases.

The research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that across England and Wales as a whole, a summer that is 2C warmer than average would be expected to cause around 1,550 extra deaths.

Reasons for higher death rates in the Southeast is not yet known, however you can find more on this research HERE.


Growing global thirst for energy threatens water supplies 

21 March 2014

On the eve of the UN’s World Water Day on Saturday 22nd March 2014, the World Water Development report states that "there is an increasing potential for serious conflict between power generation, other water users and environmental considerations".

Energy production accounts for close to 15% of the world's water usage, but that figure could rise. By 2035, water use for energy is projected to jump by 20%, the report says. Water demand, meanwhile, could increase by 55% by 2050.

About 90% of power generation is water-intensive, says the report, which warns that less conventional oil and gas production, including via tar sands and fracking, along with biofuels, place particularly large demands on water resources.

More on this article can be found HERE however previous articles have shown that wind power is a less water-intensive power generator, which can be found by scrolling down. 


Global warming will cut crop harvests by 2 per cent each decade 

19 March 2014

New research conducted by Australian, British and American scientists have uncovered that climate change will cause bigger falls in crop yields than previously thought, exacerbating food insecurity. The study found that the situation will worsen in the second half of the century, with tropical areas worse hit than temperate regions.

An analysis of more than 1,700 simulations found that across all regions and all crops, including wheat, maize and rice, yields will drop by 2% each decade, based on a 2C rise by 2050. However, for some crops, the situation will be much worse, with wheat and maize in tropical areas experiencing a 40% decline if temperatures reach 5C warmer than pre-industrial levels.

Governments have agreed a target of limiting temperature rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels, although scientists warn the planet could experience a 4C or even 5C rise if carbon dioxide emissions are not drastically cut.

To find more on this research, click HERE.


A lack of clarity in planning for onshore wind developments

17 March 2014

MSP’s have said that planning for wind farms needs to be "urgently addressed" and further guidance is needed if Scotland is going to meet its renewable energy targets.

It has been highlighted that planning documents needed to show much greater clarity on buffer zones between energy developments and communities.

Committee convener Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, said "Scotland deserves a transparent and consistent policy that provides clarity for planners, developers and communities".

To find on more information, follow this LINK


New report warns of massive amount of water used by traditional power plants  

14 March 2014

A report published the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) highlights how traditional power stations use vast amounts of water to generate power and how this needs to be accounted for when the Government is setting energy and climate change policy.

The ‘Saving Water with Wind Energy’ report states that nuclear, coal and gas-fired power stations in Europe use 4.5 billion cubic metres of water a year. This is the equivalent to three Olympic-sized swimming pools being consumed every minute.

The study warns that such plants are contributing to Europe’s water scarcity whereas wind energy uses hardly any water to generate clean electricity.

To find more on the report, click HERE


Positive forecasts for the wind industry 

12 March 2014

Europe’s wind energy chiefs have delivered a series of predictions that they believe will shape the market sector by the year 2020.

At a meeting of EWEA 2014 in Barcelona this week, the CEOs forecast an end to regulatory uncertainty, increasing levels of consolidation within the industry and leaps ahead in technology. 

To view the predictions given, follow this LINK


More women working in renewables than other energy sectors 

10 March 2014

Just in time for International Women’s Day (8th March 2014), a new report shows that more than a quarter of employees in the Scottish renewable energy sector are women, which is a larger proportion than in the oil and gas or nuclear sectors.

The survey, commissioned by Scottish Renewables found that 28% of the renewable energy industry’s workforce are female, compared to UK oil and gas which has 21% and nuclear with 18%.

To find more on this story, click HERE


Flood damage costs across Europe expected to reach 23 billion euros by 2050 

7 March 2014

The first comprehensive analysis of flood risk across the continent has revealed that the cost of flood damage it set to soar five fold in the coming decades. The increasingly intense downpours driven by climate change, as well as population growth and urbanisation, will see a rise to 23 billion euros a year by 2050!

The costs of damage could be curbed by better flood protection and insurance schemes for example new research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that improving flood defences across the EU to resist once-a-century flooding would save €7 billion a year by 2050 but cost just €1.75 billion. In the UK, most flood defences save £8 for every £1 spent.

Find the full article HERE


New wind energy record 

5 March 2014

Wind energy has hit a new monthly record generating 11% of the UK’s electricity with 2,750,086 MWh (megawatt hours), which is enough to power more than six and a half million homes. The previous monthly record of 10% was set in December 2013. These official National Grid figures highlight that wind energy has an extremely important role in our electricity mix. 

Wind energy has succeeded with a number of records recently including generating an all-time half-hour high of 6,215 MW on 31st January and a daily record of supplying 17% of the UK’s electricity demand on 23rd February.

More information on these figures can be found HERE.  


Important role of renewable energy 

3 March 2014

New figures have shown that Scotland’s power station gas emissions fall by more than a third in five years.  Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said emissions had dropped from the equivalent of 18.484 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2006 to the equivalent of 12.147 million tonnes in 2011.

These statistics show the importance of the renewable sector in minimising greenhouse gases. A report last month stated that there were over 11,000 people in Scotland working in the renewable sector which proves that the renewable industry is providing social, economic and environmental benefits to the country.

More on this story can be found HERE.


2013 is a superior year for wind power

28 February 2014

Provisional figures released recently by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reveal that the amount of electricity produced by wind increased by 38% between 2012 and 2013. In total the amount of energy generated by wind grew from 5.5% in the mix in 2012 to 7.7% in 2013.

Low carbon generation in general accounted for 32.7% of the UK supply, up from 29.4% in the previous year.

Initial conclusions suggest that traditional fossil fuel production is falling, in part due to falls in UK output of oil and gas. The report from DECC states that for the first time in 2013 net imports of gas exceeded UK production.

The latest DECC statistics can be found HERE.


Policy indecisions cause UK to fall behind in renewable energy league

26 February 2014

The UK is starting to fall behind in the renewable energy chart according to the Ernst & Young’s latest renewable energy global ranking table due to mixed policy measures.

Plans for a number of key offshore wind energy projects have recently either been scrapped or scaled down in the UK and the nation’s largest biomass power plant is under threat of closure because of ever-shifting funding rules. Additionally, the Government’s objection to EU binding 2030 energy and climate targets has not helped the situation.

Prolonged energy strategy consultation and anti-renewables legislation have resulted in ranking falls for France and Australia respectively, while ambitious targets and a series of large-scale project announcements have seen India jump to seventh place. Competitive bidding trendsetters Brazil and South Africa have also risen in the index thanks to a plethora of new projects awarded in 2013 auctions.

Looking ahead, resilience, efficiency and effectiveness, technology beyond generation, new markets and innovative financing have been identified as fundamental to industry growth in 2014.

For the full article, click HERE.


Wind Turbine Syndrome Rejected by Health Researchers

24 February 2014

Anti-wind farm campaigners claim that the existence of wind farms can cause a range of human health conditions, often labeled ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’. Symptoms of this syndrome include headaches, insomnia, dizziness, quivering and nervousness. However, a study undertaken in late-2012 by one of Australia’s leading health research bodies, the National Health and Research Council, found no substantial evidence to suggest that wind farms affect human health and cause symptoms of ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’.

The study reviewed published scientific research into the effect of wind farms on health and specifically focused on the impact of noise, shadow flicker and electromagnetic radiation. Professor Warwick Anderson, the chief executive of the research council, stated that these factors do not cause any direct health issues and that there is "no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans".

Russel Marsh, Policy Director of The Clean Energy Councils states that the information given in this paper should "give peace of mind to those living near operating or proposed wind farms that their health will not be adversely affected".

Further details can be obtained via this link.

New study on turbine lifespan - 21 February 2014

Imperial College research has shown that turbines remain efficient for up to 25 years, countering claims that the devices have a more limited shelf life than other renewable technologies.

The UK’s 531 wind farms currently produce 7.5% of the UK’s electricity and continued investment is critical in meeting renewable energy targets. Yet opponents of wind power have recently highlighted a study that showed turbines’ output decreasing by a third after 10 years.

New research published this week by Imperial College Business School that analyses the nation's fleet of 4,246 wind turbines using local wind speed data from NASA showed turbines will last their full life of around 25 years before they need to be upgraded.

More information on this study can be found HERE.


Climate change has made a return as a mainstream issue

19 February 2014

Last week YouGov commissioned an opinion poll which found an increase in public concern for the environment which has not been seen in any national poll since 1980’s. The environment was prioritised over issues such as health, crime and education.

Undoubtedly the recent flooding in Britain accounts for part of this sudden increase in concern as the UK has experienced the wettest January in 250 years. This is clearly becoming a pattern as opposed to an anomaly as four of five wettest years on record have been since 2000.

Over the past fortnight the relentless weather has caused Westminster to discuss climate change once more; David Cameron has stated that he thinks "climate change is a serious threat", Ed Miliband has warned that we risk "sleepwalking into a climate crisis" and Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said that climate change "is a national security issue, definitely."

More on the return of climate change talk can be found HERE


Using wind power, could save water 

17 February 2014

Although much of Britain may be under water following the worst floods in half a century, research from top academics has shown that the country is at risk of water shortages that could shut down power stations and paralyse electricity supplies.

Due to the high dependency of water in electricity generation, alongside climate change and growing populations, some power stations may be forced to decrease production or even shut down if water shortages arise.

Using gas or other fossil fuels with high levels of carbon capture and storage (CCS) could increase fresh water consumption by almost 70% and using high levels of nuclear power could lead to increases in the use of tidal and coastal water by almost 400%.

Using wind power or other renewable power technologies, with a consequent reduction of other more water-intensive power systems, could result in fresh water consumption falling in the electricity sector by about 60%.

To find more on this research, click HERE.


Wind Energy and Consumer Bills

14 February 2014

A new white paper published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) finds that wind power keeps electricity bills low due to the plummeting wind energy costs driven by technological improvements. The report is based upon publicly available data and more than a dozen studies from government, utility and other independent sources to explore how wind energy affects consumers' energy bills.

Consumers in the top wind-energy-producing states in the US have seen their electricity prices actually decrease by 0.37% over the last five years. More on the article can be found HERE


UK Storms Continue 

13 February 2014

Yesterday saw record wind speeds of 105 mph causing disruption throughout Britain. The Environment Agency warned that the Thames was set to rise in places to its highest levels in more than 60 years. The Agency issued 14 severe flood warnings (risk to life) and 139 less serious flood warnings.

Many sources including the Met Office have linked these weather events to climate change. One article title ‘Time to break the silence over climate change’ shows that the collective silence on the matter is the biggest challenge of all.

For more information on the UK storms click HERE.


UK Storms linked to Climate Change

11 February 2014

The Met Office’s Chief Scientist has said that climate change is likely to be a factor in the extreme weather which has hit most of the UK in the recent months.

Over 130 flood warnings have been issued since December 2013 with some indicating a threat to life. In 2012 there were only 9 flood warnings in total. UK records date back to 1766 and there is no record of similar weather events in the past.

The Met Office report links the recent extreme weather in Europe and North America to "perturbations" in the North Atlantic and Pacific jet streams, partly emanating from changing weather patterns in South East Asia and "associated with higher than normal ocean temperatures in that region".

David Cameron has said that the UK must prepare for more extreme weather.

For more on this story, click HERE.


2013 sees a 12.5% global rise in wind energy

6 February 2014

The Global Wind Energy Council has reported that global wind capacity grew 12.5 % to 318,137 MW last year and "the prospects for 2014 and beyond look much brighter". Projects under construction in Europe were led mostly by the UK and Germany.

Elsewhere the report shows that the US totalled more than 12,000 MW by the end of the year, India has a new national ‘wind mission’ and Brazil booked 4.7 GW of new projects.

The annual five year forecast will be issued in April.

The full report can be found HERE


European Union set binding renewable energy target for 2030 

23 January 2014

The European Union commission has now revealed a new EU binding renewable energy target of 27% by 2030. Supporting this target, the EU has set a following target to cut greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030. Questions have been raised as to why the EU has not set a new renewable target for 2020.

RenewableUK Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery highlighted the concerns by stating that although they are "pleased the EU Commission has recognised that renewable energy is a key part of future energy solutions across Europe, the lack of ambition in not ensuring there are national binding targets for renewable energy is a disappointment." This in turn could affect the need for a drive towards clean, sustainable, renewable energy, which in turn is the only solution to reducing the carbon emissions.

Although no targets have been set for 2020, the Commission have highlighted that targets can be set nationally; therefore the UK Government could lead the way. In order to meet the Greenhouse Gas emissions targets set previously, the UK needs to investigate and introduce further renewable sources, encouraging job creation and energy security whilst tackling climate change.

The full article can be found HERE


UN Climate Chief urges the withdrawal of fossil fuels 

17 January 2014

The UN’s climate chief, Ms Figueres has urged investors to pull their money out of fossil fuel linked funds in order to secure billions of peoples pensions and the risk of global warming. Ms Figueres highlighted the need to invest their money into green assets instead.

In order to prevent a temperature increase of above 2 degrees, then environmental campaigners have stated that around up to three quarters of the coal, oil and gas that remains must stay in the ground. Ms Figueres argued that "the continued and dangerous rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is in large part the direct result of past investments in energy and mobility systems based on the use of fossil fuels". However, financial experts are arguing the monetary value of the resources if they are left unused. Ms Figueres highlight how "new investments must now assist in reversing the unsustainable trend" and focus on the withdrawal of funding for fossil fuels.

The UN Climate Chief is now concerned that too few companies have disclosed their investment in fossil fuels, and that there are greater opportunities to invest in climate friendly assets. The International Energy Agency emphasises the need to invest $36 trillion in clean energy by 2050 in order to prevent the world from warming by 2 degrees by 2050.

The find more on this topic, follow this LINK.


Renewable Energy Employment in Scotland

14 January 2014

Employment within the renewable energy sector within Scotland is a key asset research in 2013 has found. The full time employment total for all 541 organisations who took part in Scottish Renewables survey is 11,695.

Research found that the majority of employment is within Scotland’s Central Belt (54%), followed by the Highlands and Islands (17%) and finally the North East (14%). 

Within Scotland, in terms of renewable energy sector, the majority of employment is within Wind Energy, with onshore wind being the main focus (39%), followed closely by offshore wind (21%). Closely behind the main two is wave/tidal and bio energy (9%).  Similar to this, onshore wind and hydro are seen as the most important segments from an employment perspective, with onshore wind dominating employment within Glasgow, the South of Scotland and Lothian.

The future of renewable energy employment is looking positive; with 54% of organisations stating that they considered their employment would increase within the next 12 months, with only 9% considering a decrease.  Highlighted within the research were the skills gaps within the renewable energy sector, focused upon technical, construction and engineering skills. However, each organisation stated the push for the need to employ graduate level personnel to their operations. 

More information can be found HERE


Record Breaking Wind Energy 

6 January 2014

Wind power within the UK generated more electricity from wind than any other month within December 2013. Records were broken, including the amount of electricity generated in a week and the percentage of electricity supplied by wind in a single month compared to other power generation sources. Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK, Maf Smith highlighted how "in December, more electricity was generated from wind for British homes and businesses than during any other month on record", as well as hitting weekly and daily highs of record breaking wind data.

Throughout December, wind power generated a total of 2,841,080 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity for the National Grid, producing enough power for more than 5.7 million British homes, supplying 10% of Britain’s total electricity demand for homes, businesses and factories. Maf Smith supported this success by stating "this is a towering achievement for the British wind energy industry". Similar to this, he highlighted the move in a direction away from fossil fuels to "clean renewable sources are unstoppable".

However, further records were broken with over a one week period (starting on Monday 16th December), a record 783,886 MWh was generated from wind resources, providing 13% of Britain’s total electricity needs for one week. Similar to this record, Saturday 21st December, the last Saturday before Christmas day, a daily amount of electricity generated from wind was 132,812 MWh, therefore generating a staggering 17% of the nation’s total electricity demand just for that one day.

The record breaking wind generated throughout December provides great confidence for 2014, with increasing amounts of clean energy being generated from wind, both onshore and offshore. Maf Smith highlights the need for the use of clean energy to "lessen our dependence on excruciatingly expensive imports of fossil fuels which have driven peoples fuel bills up". British wind is producing energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, creating a stable, secure and cost effective supply of power. 


New Consumption Figures

2 January 2014

DECC published statistics on 19th December 2013, showing that the average annual household electricity consumption for the calendar year 2012 in Great Britain was 4,222 kWh.

In 2011, the average annual household electricity consumption was 4,266 kWh and 4,370 kWh in 2010.

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