Renewable energy, also known as clean energy, comes from many different places – the sun, wind, rain, geothermal heat, tides, and waves can all be used to generate it.
If you’re interested in the renewable energy industry, thinking about investing in it, or wondering how renewables could help power your business, here are five trends you should know about this year.
You can also read our report on 8 Green Living trends for 2021 to live more sustainably.
Technology will develop
Renewable energy is an ever-evolving field, and recent advancements suggest that innovation will continue in 2021.
Last year an Oxford-based technology firm created solar panels that can generate almost a third more electricity than traditional silicon-based solar panels.
They did that by coating them with a layer of perovskite, a crystal material.
Meanwhile, the UK’s first deep geothermal site, United Downs, has signed a purchase agreement for power and heat produced at the plant.
This is the first sale of geothermal energy in the UK.
Businesses will share their renewable credentials
Companies have been concerned about sustainability for some time now.
There has been an increase in the number who want to make ambitious commitments to their environmental efforts.
That will include a mix of on-site renewable energy generation.
Purchasing additional renewable energy, and potentially offsetting measures to hit ‘carbon-neutral’ targets.
One recent example is Leicestershire-based brickmaker Ibstock plc.
The company has become the first building products manufacturer in Britain to source its electricity from 100% renewable sources.
Such measures both reduce electricity and energy costs in the long run and create a good news story to share.
Therefore, businesses should keep an eye out for government incentives to ‘greenify’ their operations in the coming year.
These will go far and beyond the existing Climate Change Agreements available.
Electricity generation by fuel source 2019
Use of renewables will rise
In the UK, the share of electricity generated by renewables exceeded 40% for the first time in the first quarter of 2020.
It stayed above it (at 44.4% and 40.2%) in the following two quarters.
Overall, renewables produced 41% of electricity in 2019, up from 35% in 2019.
This is a sign of the growing importance of renewables, and while there will be fluctuations, the upwards trend will continue.
Particularly as the government has committed to a 10-point ‘green recovery plan.’
The plan includes investments and support for wind and solar power sources.
This trend was mirrored elsewhere.
In the European Union, while energy use dropped during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, renewable power’s share of the grid rose.
According to Ember, around 40% of the EU’s electricity in the first half of 2020 came from renewables, compared with 34% from fossil fuels.
China is set to see huge investment in renewables as it seeks to reduce air pollution and meet a recent pledge to become carbon neutral before 2060.
And under new US President Joe Biden, the country is set to place limits on new and existing oil and gas operations and invest in green energy.
Electricity supply, 1980 – 2019
The price of renewables will drop
Solar power prices are sinking around the world, according to Forbes.
Combined with a predicted rise in gas and electricity prices in the UK, that makes solar PV systems an attractive prospect for SMEs and larger businesses.
Therefore, these organisations may want to introduce such systems or expand their existing ones.
Costs for the on- and off-shore wind projects that governments invest in are also falling.
The ‘hydrogen economy’ will emerge
According to Deloitte, we can expect to see hydrogen production and storage projects join wind and solar as a way to cut carbon emissions.
The consultancy forecasts that green hydrogen development may act as seasonal storage of fuel available on-demand to generate power for grid balancing.
As businesses and economies begin to recover from COVID-19, governments can shape incentive packages to accelerate renewable energy growth and lock in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
There was never a better time to use wisely the billions of pounds spent on clean energy.
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