After a rollercoaster year for renewable energy, the Guardian has outlined five trends that it expects to see within the industry during 2018:
Costs will continue to fall:
Renewable energy costs have declined considerably in recent years, with solar prices dropping by 62% since 2009 and offshore wind prices also being halved. Due to this, governments are now experiencing record-low prices for solar and wind at power auctions. It is said that the increase of country-level auctions for renewable energy will reduce prices in other countries where costs of renewables remain high. Investment in renewables stayed at a high rate through 2017 but there was not much increase, partly due to falling costs.
China will continue to lead energy revolution:
Despite being the world’s biggest polluter, China is also the global leader of solar energy. James Wilde of the Carbon Trust explained, “they’ve surpassed their solar PV 2020 targets already, and I expect them to hit their wind target in 2019”. China plans to invest a total of £292bn in renewable power by 2020. There will also be a cap introduced on coal burning across the country, the main cause of so much pollution in its cities, due to commitments made in the Paris climate agreement. China is also looking to become a world leader in the production and usage of electric vehicles, so look out for this in 2018. Lisa Fischer, of think tank E3G, illustrates China’s dominance in renewable investment; “China is investing more in R&D than Europe is”.
More commitment to renewable measures from corporations:
Before 2017, US company Target had 147 megawatts of solar installed on 300 of its stores making them the leader in corporate adopters of solar across the US. Apple’s new campus runs 100% on green energy, and other corporations have also begun to take measures towards becoming powered completely by renewables. Wilde said to expect this to continue and expand in 2018, due mainly to falling costs, the need for secure energy for the future, and the market benefits of sustainability that are becoming well-known.
The industry will generate more jobs:
A report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, around 9.8 million people worldwide now work in the renewable energy sector. Certain jobs within this sector are the fastest-growing occupations in the US, and a £17.5bn investment in UK offshore wind power will create thousands of jobs here. Saying this, the transition to a more renewable energy-based labour market could be slowed by their not being enough skilled people who are able to work within these jobs.
Competition in the battery market will increase:
Tesla plan to complete its Nevada gigafactory in 2018, the biggest battery factory in the world. In reaction, China have announced plans to provide 120 gigawatt-hours of battery cells a year by 2021. Large-scale battery factories are also to be built in Sweden, Hungary, Poland and Germany. In April 2017, the UK announced the Faraday Challenge, a £246m investment in battery technology directed towards research, hoping to put the UK at the forefront of the energy storage market.