Energy trends that will run the world in 2019

Energy trends that will run the world in 2019

While the world’s need for energy seems to be insatiable, the sources of it are going through a drastic change. A 100% renewable society is becoming a reality for many, while others are making serious commitments towards adopting clean energy. Here are some of the trends for 2019 we believe will take us closer to that goal.

Text: Chandralekha Mukerji Photo: 123RF



1. In energy, renewable is business as usual

Innovation has always been the catchword for technologies in the renewables sector, but no more – it’s matured enough to be adapted on a larger scale.

The cost of renewable energy is falling fast enough to be consistently cheaper than the use of fossil fuels within a few years, according to a 2018 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. For example, the cost of solar photovoltaic electricity has reduced by 73% since 2010. At this point, companies do not have to be innovative to use renewable sources but rather just choose to invest in it – a smart business decision for not just the future, but also the present.

The changes in energy policy are expected to continue and with higher speed. There will be differences of opinion, the debate will continue and there will be different “camps”. However, the investment flow into renewables will continue based on the economics regardless of the national policies.

(Ref: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2018/01/13/renewable-energy-cost-effective-fossil-fuels-2020/#659e383d4ff2)

 

2. In tech we trust

The most important thing will be the use of data and developing services and business around it will play a stronger role. Data analytics and data integration is already being used everywhere and will be involved in all spheres, be it energy production, storage or energy management. It will also contribute to the demand side and coming up with cheaper energy solutions.

The industry is also using the latest technology, from 3D printing to blockchains, to cut costs and improve efficiency.

The renewable energy industry is constantly updating its manufacturing and working models to make use of innovation in other industries to reduce costs. In July 2018, the world’s largest offshore wind farm used automated drones to cut inspection time from two hours to 20 minutes. At the same time, two US national laboratories collaborated to manufacture a 3D-printed wind-blade mould, reducing prototyping costs and time from over a year to three months. On the business side, blockchain start-ups are trying to apply the technology to make the energy attribute certificate – important in the renewables industry to verify the source of power generation – easier, cheaper and free of fraud.

 (Ref: A Deloitte insight report - https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/industry/power-and-utilities/global-renewable-energy-trends.html)

 

3. Funding a green future

All innovation and technological advancement towards a sustainable society will fall flat if we do not have the money to push these changes. Going by this year’s COP24 side event’s focus, 2019 will see many developments in Climate Finance, especially from corporates and big businesses.

You know that people mean business when they put their money where their mouth is. Going by this, the COP24 showed signs that the world finally is serious about climate change. The past year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Poland dedicated a number of side events that talked about how to accelerate the innovation towards sustainability and green technological advancements. And it seems that climate funding from businesses and corporates will play a much bigger role in the future.

Read more: https://www.wartsila.com/twentyfour7/environment/the-world-invests-for-a-green-planet

 

4. Our waste, our fuel

Both organic waste and plastic can be turned into fuel, but the debate over it is still on and discussions around its efficiency have yet to come to a conclusion. 

Sustainable waste to energy innovation has been difficult to scale. EThekwini Municipality, South Africa, found that not all landfills produce enough gas from decomposition of organic waste. The technology is expensive as well. However, a study the Earth Engineering Center at the City College of New York conducted found that non-recyclable plastic can be turned into an alternative to fossil fuels. As the debate continues, environmentalists argue that waste-to-energy is important to the zero-waste goal.

There is an increase in demand for new carbon-neutral fuels, which not only includes waste-based fuels, but all kinds of synthetic fuels as well. 

(Ref: https://phys.org/news/2018-06-plastic-energy-fuels.htmlhttp://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/interwaste-uses-innovation-to-convert-waste-into-energy-2018-06-08https://daily.jstor.org/waste-to-energy-sustainability-solution-or-ponzi-scheme/)

 

5. What a wonderful ‘green’ world

As the world becomes more aware of climate change, local governments globally have stood up to show that we can still fight it with the right policies.

Places big and small are paving the way towards more sustainable societies. From Curitiba, Brazil, that recycles 70% of its waste, to Reykjavik, Iceland, which uses its natural geothermal energy to lower dependency on fossil fuels, there is a global move to make cities more sustainable. San Francisco banned all plastic bottles and pioneered water conservation. Singapore has now had a decade of mandated ‘green buildings’. Cape Town, South Africa, is among the top five cities in the world to have addressed climate change through their Carbon Disclosure Project. 

More cities, states and top companies will lead this change with successful examples. Among the countries, China will be an interesting player as everything they do—be it adoption of EV, solar PV, their energy policy and energy mix—will have a huge global impact.

Read more: https://www.wartsila.com/twentyfour7/energy/graciosa-on-the-path-to-100-renewable-energy


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