Renewables: the future of energy
The world is investing more and more in renewable energy sources. Bloomberg New Energy Finance has estimated that, in 2017, 333.5 billion dollars were allocated to the development of green technologies – 3% more than in 2016 – and predicts that the same amount will be allotted in 2018.
The choice to invest in clean energy forms is a growing trend that translates into new installed capacity every year. In 2017, 160 GW of renewable energy were brought into operation worldwide, with solar (98 GW) and wind (56 GW) leading the way and without calculating the contribution of large hydropower plants.
"The investment total in 2017 is even more extraordinary when we consider that capital costs for the leading technology – solar – continue to drop drastically. Typical industrial-scale photovoltaic plants cost about 25% less per megawatt than in 2015."
Jon Moore, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Costs Drop, Competitiveness Increases
The increase of renewable energy sources in the global energy mix is the result of the combination of technological development, constant innovation, balanced policies and increasing investments. The conjunction of these elements is shown in the cost competitiveness of energy produced with renewables.
The International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) revealed that, since 2010, the cost of electrical generation produced by wind plants has decreased by about 23%, and by 73% for solar photovoltaic fields.
"This new dynamic marks a significant change in the energy paradigm. Costs are declining in an unprecedented way because of technology, and show the degree to which renewable energies are changing the global energy system."
Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA
The Race Continues
The growth that renewable sources are showing today makes the age when they were still generically referred to “alternative energies” seem like the distant past; and yet less than 10 years have gone by.
The need for a rapid and effective response to climate change together with the need for a new sustainable development model and for the possibility of widespread access to energy have made renewable energies critical for the future of the planet, both in industrialised and in emerging countries.
Will the positive record that has marked the path of renewables to date continue into 2018?
"According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysts, investments in renewables will repeat 2017 numbers in 2018 and the new global installed capacity will increase by at least 160 GW, especially thanks to China, Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia."
At the Centre of a Whole Revolution
The growth of renewable energy sources is increasingly linked to the transformation of the entire energy sector, which is bringing about a true revolution of utilities as well as of several industries linked to the energy sector.
"The development of renewable energies is both a cause and an effect in the energy transition underway. It is now taken for granted that the future of energy, of the climate and of development is closely linked to solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and biomass."
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), this year will be characterised by renewables playing a role that is often fundamental – as is the case for the reduced use of fossil fuels – and always considerable – for example, in the further evolution of energy storage technology.
The spread of electric mobility, the evolution of the natural gas market and the cost of lithium ion batteries are some of the themes that BNEF has indicated as key to the energy sector in the near future, alongside renewable sources.