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What is holding up the green energy transition?

What is holding up the green energy transition

It has never been so important to implement renewable energy generation quickly and successfully across the globe. The world is warming at an alarming rate and the side effects of climate change are quickly impacting regions across the world.

Of course, clean technology can’t just ‘begin’. It needs to be developed and installed, which can take some time. But it still feels as though there is something blocking the full potential of green energy.

The IEA reported that in Q1 of 2020 nearly 28% of all global electricity generation came from clean sources. While a quarter of global power being sourced renewably sounds positive, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Scientists have been advocating for renewables for decades now and the future of our planet relies on us cutting out fossil fuels. So, what’s the hold up?

Where are we now with green energy adoption?

In recent years renewable energy has begun to skyrocket. Back in 2010 there was 15GW of solar installed for the first time – just 15! Less than a decade later the number of installed solar GWs reached over 100 per year.

Of course, there is more to clean energy than solar. Around 2015 wind power started to become more popular too. By 2017 renewable energy on the whole had surpassed nuclear power use in the US for the first time since the industrial revolution. Slowly but surely, bioenergy, green hydrogen and green ammonia are being introduced to the market too.

The IEA graph below gives some insight to the growth of renewables across the globe. Wind adoption is increasing across the board followed by solar, then hydropower.

IEA- Renewable electricity generation increase by technology, country, and region 2020 to 2021

What’s stopping a 100% renewable future?

The IEA have reported that in 2021 renewable capacity grew by 6%, taking the capacity up to around 295 GW. The expectation for 2022 is a further increase of 8%, reaching around 320 GW. While this growth is positive, the question is ‘why are there such limits on clean energy capacity’. The IEA state that forecasts for coming years are positive, but markets for 2023 and on are dependant on policies set by governments in coming months.

SPACE:

One attribute holding back the green transition is simply how much space it needs. To harvest solar power, there needs to be solar farms. But solutions are becoming more innovative. Solar farms can now work in harmony with agriculture sectors – housing plants and livestock. Some developers are even utilising water by creating farms on lakes and open water. Of course, the same goes for wind power, which can be on shore and offshore.

PRICE:

For renewable energy to provide a consistent stream of power, energy storage needs to be considered. There is not always light or wind to produce power, so there needs to be a backup. In this case, it is battery storage, which has previously been expensive.

The good news! Advances in battery technology are making it easier, and cheaper, than ever to store power. There are even trails happening in China to redefine the way grid disperses power, in order to save as much electricity as possible.

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