What Are Three Thing That Are Currently In The News That Concern Renewable Energy?

Growth of Renewable Energy

What are three thing that are currently in the news that concern renewable energy?

Renewable energy capacity and investment have grown substantially in recent years. According to “The Strategist’s Handbook: Tools, Templates, and Best Practices for the Modern Strategist,” global renewable energy capacity increased by over 200 gigawatts in 2020, the largest year-on-year increase on record. Investment in renewable energy was over $300 billion globally in 2020. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) predicts that global renewable energy capacity could reach over 4,000 gigawatts by 2030 under current and planned policies, increasing the share of renewables in total power capacity to over 80%. Key growth markets include solar and wind power. Solar PV capacity increased by over 100 gigawatts in 2020 to reach over 760 gigawatts. Onshore and offshore wind power capacity increased by around 110 gigawatts in 2020 to reach around 740 gigawatts globally. Continued declines in renewable energy costs coupled with supportive government policies have catalyzed the rapid growth.

Declining Costs

The costs of renewable energy technologies like solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind turbines have decreased dramatically in the past decade. According to researchers at MIT, the cost of solar PV modules has fallen by 99% since the late 1970s news | Trancik Lab – MIT. The levelized cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV dropped 88% between 2009 and 2019, according to Lazard. Wind turbine prices have fallen by about 30-40% since 2010, enabling wind’s rapid growth. These cost declines are enabling solar and wind to compete directly with new fossil fuel generation, even without subsidies in many markets.

Policy Support

Many countries around the world are implementing policies to increase the share of renewable energy, with some setting goals for 100% renewable electricity. For example, Germany has set a target of 65% renewable electricity by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Costa Rica ran on 100% renewable electricity for 300 days in 2017 and also aims to fully decarbonize its electricity system. Various cities and communities are also establishing 100% renewable energy goals, like Burlington, VT in the U.S. and Oxford County in Ontario, Canada.

Governments implement policies like renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs, tax credits, and other incentives to drive growth in wind, solar, hydropower and other renewable energy sources. Ambitious 100% renewable targets demonstrate commitment to addressing climate change and transitioning away from fossil fuels. While achieving 100% renewable energy does face challenges in grid reliability and storage, strong policy support helps drive technology innovation and infrastructure development to make high renewable energy penetration feasible.

Corporate Renewable Energy Purchases

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in corporations signing large renewable energy contracts. Major companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft have already committed to powering their operations with 100% renewable energy, including building their own solar and wind farms. WWF reports that over 380 Fortune 500 companies have set renewable energy or carbon reduction targets.

Corporate renewable energy procurement is being driven by both economic and reputational factors. The costs of wind and solar have come down so much that new renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels in many areas. Companies are signing power purchase agreements with wind and solar farms to lock in low electricity rates. This provides budget certainty and can reduce operational costs. There are also strong branding benefits for companies that commit to 100% renewable energy, as it demonstrates leadership on sustainability and climate action. According to the Business Renewables Center, corporate renewable energy procurement totaled over 31 GW of capacity in 2021, more than double the demand compared to 2020.

However, some critics have pointed out issues with corporate renewable energy purchases. Most companies buy renewable energy certificates that support renewable energy financially but don’t necessarily bring new renewables online. There are also complexities in claiming net-zero emissions from renewable energy purchases, especially for companies with international operations (The Conversation). Nevertheless, companies have played an important role in supporting the accelerated growth of renewable energy. Their procurement provides an alternative source of demand beyond policy incentives.

Community Solar

The community solar market has seen rapid growth in recent years as the model allows households and businesses to access solar energy without installing it on their own rooftop. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the amount of community solar capacity installed grew from 100 megawatts in 2014 to 2.8 gigawatts by the end of 2020, with 30 states having at least one community solar project (SEIA). The Department of Energy (DOE) predicts the market could grow to 11 gigawatts of cumulative capacity by 2026 as the model provides greater options to access renewable energy (DOE).

The growth in community solar has been driven by declining costs, supportive policies, increased consumer interest, and innovative business models that allow households to subscribe to portions of larger, shared projects. Community solar opens up solar access to renters, apartments, condos, and homes with shading or improper rooftop orientations. By subscribing, customers receive credits that reduce their electricity bills while supporting clean energy. With tailored subscription options, community solar allows greater flexibility and affordability.

Offshore Wind

Offshore wind capacity has seen rapid growth in recent years. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the offshore wind market grew by 21% in 2021, reaching a global installed capacity of 57 GW (IEA). Much of this growth has occurred in Europe, especially the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. However, other regions like China, the United States and Vietnam are also investing heavily in offshore wind.

In the US, the Biden administration has set a goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. To meet this target, the administration has announced new lease areas and streamlined permitting processes. Major projects are already underway off the coasts of several states including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Virginia (E&E News).

Globally, the offshore wind market is projected to see sustained growth in the coming decades. According to the IEA, global offshore capacity could reach 380 GW by 2030 and over 2000 GW by 2050 under net zero policies. However, some analysts warn that supply chain constraints, permitting delays and other challenges must be addressed to achieve this rapid growth.

Renewable Energy Storage

Energy storage is a crucial enabling technology for renewable energy. As renewables like wind and solar generate intermittent power, storage helps smooth out supply and align it with demand. Battery storage in particular has emerged as a leading storage solution.

According to a recent market research report, the global renewable energy storage market size was valued at USD 16.82 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 53.36 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 13.3% from 2022 to 2030 (1). Key growth drivers include declining battery costs, favorable government policies, and the rapidly growing electric vehicle market.

Beyond lithium-ion batteries, other emerging storage technologies include compressed air energy storage, pumped hydro storage, flywheels, hydrogen storage, and thermal energy storage. Meanwhile, grid-scale battery installations by utilities and corporations are dramatically increasing. For example, in 2021 Tesla deployed 3.99 GWh of energy storage, more than tripling their 2020 record (2).

As renewables expand their share of electricity generation, large-scale energy storage will be fundamental to enabling their widespread integration and utilization. Continued technology improvements and cost declines will further accelerate growth in renewable energy storage deployments.

(1) https://www.openpr.com/news/1774387/what-s-driving-the-hybrid-solar-wind-energy-storage-market-trends-top-key-players-like-vestas-siemens-gamesa-ge-regen-powertech-a123-systems-tesla-suzlon-group-goldwind-vattenfall.html

(2) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/renewable-energy-storage-market-size-research-jjmzf

Electric Vehicles

The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) is driving increased demand for renewable energy. As more consumers purchase EVs, the charging infrastructure must be powered largely by clean energy sources to reduce overall emissions. According to a recent study, dynamically charging EVs through renewable energy integration can help achieve low carbon emissions (https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/OutputFile/1294706). With renewable energy like solar and wind, EVs can be charged without relying on fossil fuels. However, the increase in EVs also requires planning to meet the added electricity demand. Utilities and policymakers need to ensure adequate renewable energy generation and charging infrastructure to support the EV transition.

Green Hydrogen

Green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis powered by renewable energy, is gaining momentum as a clean fuel that can help decarbonize multiple sectors. Hydrogen produced from water and renewable electricity has a minimal carbon footprint. As renewable energy costs continue to fall, green hydrogen becomes increasingly competitive. A recent study highlights the potential for green hydrogen to enable deep decarbonization of energy systems.

With versatility as an industrial feedstock, fuel for transport, and energy storage medium, green hydrogen opens new possibilities for connecting renewables to end-use sectors. Major corporations such as Amazon, Microsoft and Siemens are investing in the potential of green hydrogen. It can provide clean power for ships, trucks, planes and steel manufacturing. Further cost reductions through scaling up production will be key to unlocking its full decarbonization potential. Green hydrogen provides promising pathways for renewable energy to supply zero-emission solutions across the global economy.

Challenges Remaining

While renewable energy has seen impressive growth, some key challenges still remain (https://sustainablereview.com/challenges-in-renewable-energy/). Many of these challenges relate to integrating a higher share of renewables into the existing electricity system.

One major challenge is grid integration. Wind and solar power are variable and intermittent, so accommodating these resources requires upgrades to transmission infrastructure, improved forecasting, and market reforms to properly value flexibility (https://www.sap.com/insights/renewable-energy-challenges.html).

Permitting and siting can also be difficult for large-scale renewable projects, like solar and wind farms, which require a significant amount of land. Navigating regulatory requirements and local opposition creates delays and uncertainty (https://www.trvst.world/renewable-energy/challenges-for-renewable-energy/).

The intermittent nature of renewables also makes policy and regulatory support critical. Frequent policy changes create uncertainty that dampens private sector investment and deployment. Stable, long-term policies are needed to provide confidence for businesses and investors.

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