Does Renewable Energy Have A Future

does renewable energy have a future

With climate change accelerating and fossil fuels polluting our environment, the world urgently needs clean, renewable energy sources. Renewable energy such as solar, wind, and hydropower promise a future powered by clean, limitless energy from the sun, wind, and water. Developments in renewable energy have been promising, with costs plummeting and investments surging in recent years. Many experts argue that renewable energy is the key to halting climate change and building a sustainable future. This article will explore the growth of renewable energy and the role it could play in our future energy mix. The evidence shows that renewables have a bright future if challenges are properly addressed.

Growth of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy capacity has been growing rapidly in recent years. According to [URL to be inserted here], global renewable energy capacity increased by over 270 GW in 2019, the largest annual increase on record. Renewable sources now account for over a third of global power capacity.

Some countries already get a significant portion of their energy from renewables. For example, [URL to be inserted here] states that in 2019, Denmark generated 47% of its electricity from wind power. Other countries with high renewable energy shares include Uruguay (nearly 99% from renewables), Iceland (72% from renewables), and Costa Rica (98%).

The growth of solar and wind power in particular have exceeded expert predictions and costs have fallen dramatically. This has enabled more countries to shift towards renewable energy and reach higher shares in their energy mix.

Declining Costs

The costs of renewable energy technologies like solar and wind have declined dramatically over the past decade. According to, between 2010 and 2020, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar photovoltaics declined by 90%, onshore wind by 70%, and offshore wind by 60%. These cost reductions have made renewables increasingly competitive with fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

A November 2021 article from CRU Group highlights how the drastic decline in renewable costs over the past decade is providing significant decarbonization opportunities ( In many parts of the world, the LCOE of renewables is now below the marginal cost of operating existing coal and gas plants. As renewable costs continue to fall, they are becoming the most economical sources of new electricity generation in a growing number of markets.

According to an Oxford University study, renewable energy sources like solar and onshore wind are now the cheapest sources of new power generation in countries representing over two-thirds of the world’s population and 85% of global GDP ( The dramatically declining costs have propelled renewables forward at the expense of fossil fuels.

Technological Advances

There have been major innovations in renewable energy technology in recent years, making renewables increasingly viable and cost-effective. In the solar industry, improvements in photovoltaic panel efficiency, manufacturing, and installation have led to dramatic cost reductions. New solar cell designs and materials have increased efficiency from around 10-15% in the early 2000s to over 20% today for mainstream panels. Economies of scale and streamlined processes have also reduced solar costs by over 90% in the last decade.

Advances in wind turbine technology have also lowered costs and increased efficiency. Larger turbines with taller towers, longer blades, and improved materials allow modern wind farms to generate more electricity at lower cost. Offshore wind farms are tapping into stronger and more consistent winds, further boosting output. Energy storage technology has also improved considerably, through batteries as well as mechanical and thermal storage methods. This helps address renewable power’s intermittent nature and enables wider adoption.

“Renewable power generation costs have fallen sharply over the last decade, driven by improving technologies, economies of scale, increasingly competitive supply chains and growing developer experience,” according to industry experts. The continued pace of renewable energy innovation points to a bright future as costs fall further and efficiency improves.

Government Support

Governments around the world have implemented various policies and incentives to promote renewable energy growth and adoption. Key government renewable energy policies include renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, tax credits, loans, grants, and more (Source 1). These policies create market demand and financial incentives for renewable energy development and installation. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 29 states plus Washington D.C. and 3 territories have enforceable renewable portfolio standards, which require electricity suppliers to provide a certain share of their electricity from designated renewable energy resources like wind, solar, biomass, and more. Feed-in tariffs are also commonly used, where governments set above-market rates that utilities must pay renewable generators for the renewable electricity they produce. Governments around the world have also set ambitious targets for renewable energy growth. The European Union aims for 32% renewable energy use by 2030. China aims for 50% by 2030. The U.S. aims for 50% by 2050. These targets help drive policy development as governments implement programs and incentives to try to achieve their renewable energy goals (Source 2).

Corporate Investments

Many major companies have significantly increased their investments in renewable energy in recent years. According to an article from the University of Notre Dame, “U.S. corporations signed contracts for over 4.81 gigawatts of renewable energy in 2017” (THE NEW BOOM – Mendoza Business Magazine). This represents a major increase in corporate renewable energy procurement.

Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Walmart, General Motors, and many more are making major renewable energy investments. As the article states, “this corporate renewable energy investment boom, which has largely been a U.S. phenomenon, is about to go global.” There is great potential for even further growth as more companies realize the environmental and economic benefits of switching to renewables.

According to a report from Gardiner Partners summarized by their blog, many corporations are specifically investing in renewable energy projects in Central America (New report on corporate renewable energy investment). The region has great solar and wind resources that companies can leverage to reduce their carbon footprints and energy costs.

Public Opinion

Public opinion polls indicate strong and growing support for renewable energy among the general public. Recent surveys found that a large majority of Americans support expanding solar and wind power, including both Republicans and Democrats. For example, a 2018 Pew Research Center poll found that 77% of Americans favored more solar panel farms, while 69% supported more wind turbine farms. Only 23% and 27% opposed more solar and wind farms, respectively (Source).

Many Americans also prioritize renewables over fossil fuels. A 2019 Pew poll found that 63% of U.S. adults believed developing alternative energy sources like wind and solar should be a higher priority for addressing America’s energy supply than expanding fossil fuel sources. Only 22% prioritized fossil fuel expansion over renewables (Source).

Climate change is a key driver behind public support for renewable energy. The vast majority of Americans are concerned about global warming and believe human activity contributes significantly. As people increasingly associate fossil fuels with climate change impacts, they are more inclined to support renewable energy growth. A 2018 poll found 67% believed the federal government was not doing enough to reduce the effects of global climate change (Source).


Despite the growth of renewable energy, the sector still faces some key challenges. Two of the biggest are intermittency and grid constraints.

Many renewable sources like solar and wind are intermittent – they only generate power when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. This can create challenges in matching energy supply with demand and requires ways to store excess energy for when renewable sources are not available. As noted by Sustainable Review (, one solution is large-scale batteries like the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia that can store renewable energy and help stabilize the grid.

Transmission capacity is also an issue according to SAP ( Renewable sources are often located far from energy demand centers and require expanded transmission infrastructure to connect supply and demand. Upgrading transmission lines is expensive and faces permitting challenges.

Fossil fuel subsidies also skew the economics against renewable energy as noted by TRVST ( Global fossil fuel subsidies were estimated at over $400 billion in 2020, giving them an advantage over renewable energy. Removing these subsidies could make renewable power more cost-competitive.

Potential Solutions

There are several ways we can address the intermittency challenges of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power:

Energy storage solutions like batteries and pumped hydro storage can help store excess renewable energy when supply exceeds demand and discharge it when needed. Improved forecasting of renewable generation can also help grid operators better manage the variability. Strategic placement of renewable energy facilities across a wider geographic area can help smooth out supply. And advanced grid management through smart grids and transmission upgrades can facilitate the integration of larger amounts of renewables. New battery technologies like the sodium-ion battery being developed at the University of Arizona could provide low-cost, long-duration energy storage options.

Policies and regulations can help level the playing field for renewables. These include continued tax credits, feed-in tariffs, renewable portfolio standards mandating utilities to source a percentage of power from renewables, and streamlining permitting and siting processes. Carbon pricing mechanisms that account for the externalized costs of fossil fuels also make renewables more cost competitive.


In summary, renewable energy undoubtedly has a bright future ahead. As the costs continue to fall and technology improves, renewables will become even more cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Major investments by governments and corporations also demonstrate the viability and future potential of renewable energy on a large scale. Public support remains high as well. Renewables accounted for over 25% of global electricity generation in 2021, and are projected to supply up to 70% by 2050 if growth continues at the current pace.

To support the continued expansion of renewables, we must encourage further policy support like tax credits, incentives, and mandates for renewable energy. Individuals can also help by choosing renewable power through their utility, installing solar panels on their homes, and pressuring companies and governments to transition more rapidly to renewable energy sources. With the right policies, investments, and public engagement, renewable energy undoubtedly has a bright future ahead as a dominant energy source globally.

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