7 reasons why renewables are unstoppable
The boom in renewables is currently breaking records. During 2017, more than 160 GW were installed worldwide, an 8.3% increase compared to the previous year. Among renewable technology, solar is the one that grows the most and is expected to continue doing so in the coming years (up to 438 GW in 2022, according to the IEA)
This growth in renewable energy is due to several reasons:
- Electricity demand: the middle class is expected to grow rapidly in the next 10 years, particularly in Asia, and with it the demand for energy, which will be produced to a greater extent by renewables, according to Cepsa’s forecast for 2030. In addition, a greater electrification of the economy will cause electricity consumption to increase in Europe, and other highly industrialized areas.
- Technological progress: the reduction in the cost of batteries, due to the improvements attained in the last years allow us to foresee a future in which renewable energies and batteries lead the energy market. During the last 5 years it has been possible to reduce the cost of batteries by more than 70%, while increasing their capacity. Although there is still room for improvement, both in terms of capacity and cost, the market is confident that one of the main problems of renewables can be solved in the coming years.
- Electrification of transport: internal combustion engines are greatly and thankfully threatened with the rise of electric cars. Cheaper and better batteries make increasingly attractive to buy electric cars. This increase in the vehicle fleet will also increase the demand for electricity. In addition, countries such as France, Norway, China, India or England have announced future sanctions to vehicles propelled by fuels such as gasoline and diesel, and this is expected to be a trend in more and more places. Renewables will surely play a great role in this new paradigm.
- Competitiveness: the cost of generating energy through renewables is lower and lower each year, therefore, renewable electricity today is not only clean, but also the cheapest. In the last decade, the costs of generating solar energy have been reduced by 69%, while wind has reduced costs by up to 18%. At the moment, and depending on the location, the LCOE of these technology is easily between 0.04 and 0.05 $ / kWh, beating fossil generation prices in most cases.
- Geopolitics: oil-dependent countries have begun to base their progress on renewable energy too, so they do not need fossil fuels as much and their economies do not depend on oil or gas price fluctuations. For example, the European Union bases 70% of its total energy use from oil and its derivatives, with an average external energy dependency rate of 50%. Other countries such as China are leading the change to renewables for additional reasons too, such as providing a cleaner image on the international scene, while becoming a less polluted country. (China has recorded the highest levels of CO2 emissions in the world during the last century).
- International agreements: the Kyoto Protocol and the most recent Paris Agreements set targets in the reduction of polluting emissions in the coming years. The largest economies in the world seem to be more and more aware of this issue and have decided to lead the change towards a more sustainable planet and, to achieve this; renewable energies become the main focus of action to fight against global warming.
- Installation and reliability: renewable energy plants need relatively little time to be built and be fully operational generating energy, unlike other power plants that need years to build, such as nuclear power facilities. In addition, distributed and modular systems make renewables much more reliable and safer. Distributed generation consists in the generation of electrical energy by means of many energy sources distributed in different geographical areas, helping to supply energy in periods of high demand and also reducing the risk of a general blackouts, etc., and as for the modular systems, these are composed of several turbines or panels, allowing that, in case of failure of any of them, the rest continue to function normally.
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