Humans have used traditional fossil fuels and powered industries and homes for more than a century now and it has driven civilisation forward. But as human civilisation has progressed, traditional fossil fuels are starting to deteriorate and the atmosphere is becoming more polluted. Thus the search for sustainable energy sources has begun.
At present, human civilisation is standing at a crossroads because the choices humanity makes will either doom us or save us from huge environmental mistakes in the future. The good thing is that many countries are adopting clean energy at a scale never seen before. But for renewable power to continue its advancement, the right decisions need to be made now.
When clean energy first made headlines in the global scene, there were many skeptics and questions about how stable and scalable it would be. Unstable policies for powering future growth were plagued by technical immaturity and lack of funding. Still, clean energy installation continued to prosper slowly until a few years ago.
At present, 1/5 of global electricity is produced by renewable energy. Solar technology is becoming cheaper, and wind power installations are gaining momentum around the world. In 2016, 160 gigawatts of clean energy was installed worldwide.
What do experts predict will happen in the renewable energy industry in 2018? Let’s see what the experts say.
1. The Cost of Renewable Energy Will Continue To Go Down
The cost of solar has gone down around 62% since 2009.Offshore wind power costs have also gone down by half in the last few years.
According to Renewable Energy World associate editor, Jennifer Delony, the rise of country-level auctions for renewable capacity is a trend that will continue to contribute to low prices in Australia, India and other countries, specifically with solar PVs.
2. Renewable Energy Increase
Despite efforts of the Australian coal industry, Australians have embraced renewable energy and it is starting to emerge as a major player in providing power. A decade ago, renewables represented only 7% of the electricity supply. In 2016, it was up to 17.3%. By 2030, it is predicted that 75% of electricity will be provided by renewable energy.
3. China Will Push Ahead With Their Big Energy Plans
China’s solar PV capacity has increased by nearly 800% as a response to the growing pollution problem. The country has surpassed their 2020 renewable target and it is expected that China will also reach their wind power target by next year.
China is planning to invest $517.82 billion in renewables by the year 2020. The government will also introduce a cap on coal burning as agreed at the Paris climate summit.
4. Prices of Lithium Battery Packs Will Go Down, Despite Metal Pressure
Prices of lithium-ion battery packs will slowly continue to go down this year with cobalt and lithium carbonate prices gone up to 129% and 29% respectively last year. Despite this increase, it is expected that average pack prices will go down by 10%-15% which is due to economies of scale, larger average pack sizes and energy density improvements of 5%-7% every year.
The falling cost will continue to drive the energy storage uptake. Worldwide battery storage deployments this year will exceed 2 gigawatts/4 gigawatt-hours. South Korea will be the single largest market of battery storage for the 2nd year. Despite the positive changes, the battery storage market is still fragile and the expectations about the speed of deployment are not realistic. But one such project has proved that deployment speed is capable: Tesla and Neoen’s lithium-ion battery plant in South Australia.
5. Global Electric Vehicle Sales Already at 1.5 Million
Worldwide electric vehicle sales will be at $1.5 billion this year and with China representing more than half of the worldwide market. China will represent a rise of around 40% from 2017. This will be a slight slowdown in the growth rate as China tapers off direct subsidy support for the preparation in the introduction of their electric vehicle quota in 2019.
Germany has doubled their electric vehicle production in 2017 and will double again this year. North America will have 300,000 sales this year with Tesla being the wildcard, sales could go higher.
6. Big Corporations Will Commit To Renewable Energy
Giant US retailer Target installed 147 megawatts of solar on 300 of their stores in 2016 making it one of the leading US companies that are committed to renewable energy. Apple’s California campus is running on 100% renewables, while Goldman Sachs has joined in committing to being powered by 100% renewable energy.
7. Renewable Energy Industry Will Produce More Jobs
2017 was a productive year for the Australian renewable energy sector with 43 projects under construction or being completed in Australia. These projects provided $8.8 billion in sound investment, with more than 4,469 megawatts of renewable energy capacity and produced more than 4,930 jobs.
8. Worldwide Battery Market Competition Will Go Up
Tesla should be able to complete its Nevada Gigafactory, which will be the biggest battery factory in the world. China doesn’t want to be left out and so have announced their plans to provide a capacity to almost 120 gigawatt-hours of battery cells by the year 2021. Sweden, Poland, Germany and Hungary will follow suit with their own large-scale battery plants.
The renewable energy sector is looking good and we hope it continues on this encouraging this path.