Is Renewable Energy Becoming More Popular

is renewable energy becoming more popular

Renewable energy comes from natural sources that are constantly replenished, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. The five major types of renewable energy are:

  • Solar power from photovoltaic panels or concentrated solar thermal plants
  • Wind power from onshore and offshore wind turbines
  • Hydropower from dams and tidal power from tidal barrages
  • Geothermal power from underground hot water and steam
  • Bioenergy from combustible renewables like wood, energy crops, and waste

Unlike fossil fuels which are finite, renewable energy sources are generally unlimited in availability. Concerns over energy security, climate change, pollution, and dwindling fossil fuel reserves have driven growth in renewable energy in recent decades.

Declining Costs

The costs of solar and wind energy have declined significantly in recent years, making renewable energy more affordable and competitive with conventional energy sources like fossil fuels. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), solar PV module prices have fallen by around 90% between 2009 and 2019, while wind turbine prices have fallen by 55-65% [1]. IRENA projects that by 2025, electricity from onshore wind and solar PV will be consistently cheaper than the cheapest fossil fuel option [1].

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that average construction costs for new utility-scale solar PV plants fell by 6% from 2020 to 2023, while costs for onshore wind turbines fell by 5% over the same period [2]. The declines have been driven by technological improvements, economies of scale, and supply chain developments that have made renewable energy infrastructure cheaper to manufacture and install.

Government Policy

Governments around the world have implemented various policies and incentives to drive the adoption of renewable energy. One of the most impactful policies in the United States has been the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC), which provides a tax credit per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated from qualified renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal [1]. The PTC has helped drive substantial growth in the wind and solar industries since it was established in 1992. The federal government also provides grants, loans, and other incentives for renewable energy projects and manufacturing [2]. At the state level, renewable portfolio standards require electric utilities to source a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. As of 2022, 30 states plus Washington D.C. had adopted renewable portfolio standards [3]. Many states and cities also provide additional incentives like rebates, tax credits, and streamlined permitting to further drive renewable energy adoption.

Corporate Procurement

Many major corporations have been signing large contracts to purchase renewable energy in recent years. According to BloombergNEF, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and Google were the top corporate buyers of clean energy globally in 2021. Amazon led the way, purchasing 8.3 gigawatts of new clean energy projects.

These technology giants have made commitments to drastically reduce their carbon emissions and power their operations with 100% renewable energy. By directly contracting with wind and solar farms, they are able to lock in low, long-term rates for clean electricity. Corporate renewable energy procurement in the United States grew by 21% in 2021 to reach 13.6 gigawatts.

Beyond tech companies, corporations across many industries like GM, AT&T, Walmart and Coca-Cola have signed power purchase agreements for renewables. As the costs of wind and solar continue to decline, buying clean power is frequently cheaper than conventional sources. With strong corporate demand, renewable energy is projected to account for over 50% of new electricity generation capacity in the US over the next two years.

Competitive with Fossil Fuels

In recent years, renewable energy has become cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels like coal and natural gas in many parts of the world. According to a 2022 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, between 2010 and 2022, solar and wind power reached cost parity with fossil fuels even without financial support in most major markets.

The average cost per kWh of solar power is now around $0.10, while fossil fuels range between $0.05-0.17 per kWh depending on the source and market (Inspire Clean Energy). Costs continue to decline as technology improves. Renewables are now the cheapest form of new electricity generation across most of the world, according to research by the UN (UN).

With rapidly falling prices, renewables can increasingly compete head-to-head with coal and gas on cost. This cost competitiveness is driving more adoption of renewables worldwide.

Grid Integration

Integrating renewables like wind and solar onto the electric grid has advanced significantly in recent years. Studies by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have found that the existing grid infrastructure is capable of supporting much higher levels of renewable generation [1]. Advances in power electronics, forecasting, and grid operations are enabling greater flexibility and resilience.

According to NREL research, the U.S. power system can accommodate upward of 30% renewable generation using existing technologies [2]. Variable renewable sources like wind and solar can be reliably integrated through a balanced portfolio of resources, robust transmission infrastructure, forecasting, and grid coordination. Energy storage, vehicle-to-grid integration, and demand response can also help manage variations.

Many system operators are gaining experience with high renewable penetration. For example, Xcel Energy routinely achieves above 50% wind generation on its Colorado power system. On the whole, research shows that integrating higher renewables is feasible with the right policies, market designs, and advanced grid technologies already available today.

Developing Nations

Many developing countries face energy poverty, with over 800 million people lacking access to electricity globally. Renewable energy presents an opportunity for developing nations to skip building costly fossil fuel infrastructure and “leapfrog” directly to clean energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower.[1] The International Renewable Energy Agency found that decentralized renewable energy systems are the most cost-effective solution for three-quarters of those lacking energy access. Renewables can provide affordable and reliable electricity even in remote areas through mini-grids and off-grid systems. For example, solar home systems have brought light to over 28 million households in Bangladesh. [2] With the right policies, financing, and infrastructure in place, renewable energy can help achieve universal energy access and sustainable development.

Public Opinion

Polling shows that a majority of Americans favor expanding renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. A Pew Research Center survey from March 2022 found that 69% of Americans say developing renewables should be a higher priority for the U.S. than expanding fossil fuel sources. Another Pew survey from June 2023 showed 82% of Americans support expanding solar panel farms and 75% support more wind turbine farms. A 2021 poll by Clean Power found 80% believe renewable energy is as or more reliable than traditional sources.

Future Outlook

The future looks extremely bright for renewable energy growth. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global renewable power capacity is projected to grow by a massive 2,400 gigawatts between 2022-2027, equal to the entire power capacity of China today (IEA). This is driven by ambitious climate targets set by governments around the world as well as declining costs. The IEA predicts renewable capacity additions will hit a record high of over 440 gigawatts in 2023 alone, including significant expansions in solar, wind, hydro and other renewable sources (IEA). Many experts believe costs will continue falling and adoption accelerating, with renewables projected to generate up to 90% of global electricity by 2050. The renewable energy transition is clearly underway and expected to reshape energy systems in the coming decades.


In summary, renewable energy is clearly on an upward trajectory and becoming more popular worldwide. The costs of renewables like solar and wind have declined dramatically, making them competitive with conventional energy sources. Governments are implementing supportive policies to encourage adoption, and major corporations are voluntarily procuring clean energy. Developing nations are also leapfrogging to renewables as they build out their energy infrastructure. While grid integration and storage present some challenges, solutions are rapidly emerging. Public opinion polls demonstrate strong favorability towards renewables across demographics. Looking ahead, most analysts project strong growth as renewables continue displacing fossil fuel generation and unlocking access to energy globally. The transition to an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system is well underway.

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