Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Renewable energy today

Renewable Energy Now.

Environmental awareness is increasing, and according to a study carried out in late 2018, 73% of the United States thinks climate change is happening, while 62% of the country believes it is human caused. Electricity production across the world is undergoing change, and more investment is being made in innovation, manufacturing, and applications for clean-energy solutions.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity generation in the United States in 2018 was 63.5% from fossil fuels, 19.3% from nuclear energy, and 17.1% from renewable energy sources. Among renewable energy, the main sources were 7% hydropower, 6.6% wind, and 1.6% solar power. Of fossil fuels, natural gas was at a record high of 35%, while coal saw an all-time post-WW2 record low of 27% in 2018.

The United States is currently one of the top three countries in the world in wind turbine production. There were one million solar installations in the United States in 2016, and this is expected to rise to two million in early 2019 and to four million solar installations by 2023. Both technologies are projected to grow and become more prevalent in U.S. electricity generation in the near future. The U.S. Department of Energy foresees a 10% increase in generation by solar power and a 12% increase in generation by wind power in 2019.  

There are three trends likely to impact the growth of renewable energy in the United States in 2019:

Emerging federal, state, and local political support: New local, state, and federal initiatives are receiving more attention and support. For instance, Hawaii and California have set the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, while over 200 mayors in the United States have established the objective of 100% renewable by 2035. New policies are expected to trigger further growth in wind and solar power.
Increase in investment: By the end of 2018, 156 global corporations — many based in the United States — have committed themselves to 100% renewable energy. Corporate procurement continues to increase, and asset management companies are collecting renewable energy portfolios. One example is Goldman Sachs, which has acquired 76 solar energy projects found on 143 sites. Investment in renewable energy in the United States exceeded $40 billion in both 2017 and 2018, and total private investment in renewable energy could reach a cumulative $1 trillion between 2018 and 2030.
Investment in technology is also on the rise, with advancements in technology bringing costs down. Research on solar and wind power are areas of interest, with more research via government investment on the horizon. The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget was increased by 2% for 2019 to reach $2.38 billion by Congress.

Emerging policies, advancements in technology, increases in investment, and more social awareness will most likely cause an increase in renewable energy growth in 2019 in the United States. The decrease in renewable energy costs, in addition to favorable federal policies, are also likely to stimulate renewable demand.

In G20 countries, energy generation by fossil fuels costs between $0.05 and $0.17 per kilowatt-hour today. Renewable energy is expected to cost $0.03-$0.10 per kilowatt-hour by 2020, while the price of onshore wind power and solar photovoltaic projects could be as low as $0.03 per kilowatt-hour by 2019.

Renewable energy demand will expand opportunities; and although there is some political resistance, the general trend in the United States and worldwide is towards sustainability and renewable energy growth.

The decade-long trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity continued in 2018 with global additions of 171 gigawatts (GW), according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) today. The annual increase of 7.9 per cent was bolstered by new additions from solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84 per cent of the growth. A third of global power capacity is now based on renewable energy.  

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity indicates  growth in all regions of the world, although at varying speeds. While Asia accounted for 61 per cent of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4 per cent, growth was fastest in Oceania that witnessed a 17.7 per cent rise in 2018. Africa’s 8.4 per cent growth put it in third place just behind Asia. Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies.

“Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “The strong growth in 2018 continues the remarkable trend of the last five years, which reflects an ongoing shift towards renewable power as the driver of global energy transformation.

“Renewable energy deployment needs to grow even faster, however, to ensure that we can achieve the global climate objectives and Sustainable Development Goals,” continued Mr. Amin. “Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonising their economies.”  

IRENA’s analysis also compared the growth in generation capacity of renewables versus non-renewable energy, mainly fossil-fuels and nuclear. While non-renewable generation capacity has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by about 85 GW since 2010, it has increased in both Asia and the Middle East over the same period. Since 2000, non-renewable generation capacity has expanded by about 115 GW per year (on average), with no discernible trend upwards or downwards.

Hydropower: Growth in hydro continued to slow in 2018, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity in 2018 (+8.5 GW).

Wind energy: Global wind energy capacity increased by 49 GW in 2018. China and the USA continued to account for the greatest share of wind energy expansion, with increases of 20 GW and 7 GW respectively. Other countries expanding by more than 1 GW were: Brazil; France; Germany; India; and the UK.

Bioenergy: Three countries accounted for over half of the relatively low level of bioenergy capacity expansion in 2018. China increased capacity by 2 GW and India by 700 MW. Capacity also increased in the UK by 900 MW.

Solar energy: Solar energy capacity increased by 94 GW last year (+ 24 per cent). Asia continued to dominate global growth with a 64 GW increase (about 70% of the global expansion in 2018). Maintaining the trend from last year, China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea accounted for most of this. Other major increases were in the USA (+8.4 GW), Australia (+3.8 GW) and Germany (+3.6 GW). Other countries with significant expansions in 2018 included: Brazil; Egypt; Pakistan; Mexico, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Geothermal energy: Geothermal energy increased by 539 MW in 2018, with most of the expansion taking place in Turkey (+219 MW) and Indonesia (+137 MW), followed by the USA, Mexico and New Zealand.

Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1 172 GW – around half of the total. Wind and solar energy account for most of the remainder with capacities of 564 GW and 480 GW respectively. Other renewables included 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tide, wave and ocean energy).

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)


  1. The United States counted over 96,000 megawatts of installed wind power and 64,000 megawatts of solar power at the end of 2018. That generated close to 10% of the country's total electricity production, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects the share of modern renewables in the grid to accelerate going forward. Wind and solar could reach 11% of total electric output in 2019 and 13% in 2020. By comparison, coal power is expected to drop to 23% by 2020, down from 39% as recently as 2014.
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that over 23,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects could be put into production by 2030, enough to generate about 3% to 4% of the country's total electricity. Recent bids for offshore acreage in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts earned record bids from Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor, and Avangrid, to name a few companies. It all points to a domestic offshore wind industry being developed virtually overnight, despite a lack of discussion.

    Meanwhile, EGS is still in the earliest stages of development, but it has equally impressive potential. The technology involves drilling wells deep underground, circulating a fluid over naturally hot rocks, and using the steam created in a closed-loop system to spin turbines on the surface. Unlike conventional geothermal or hydrothermal resources that are dependent on existing geology in a limited number of states, EGS projects could be economical across a wide range of the country.

    In fact, the DOE thinks the United States has at least 100,000 megawatts of next-generation geothermal potential -- equivalent to the nation's installed nuclear power fleet (although EGS would produce slightly less electricity than nuclear on a power capacity basis, but more than wind or solar). In 2018, the department doled out a record $16 million in grants to accelerate research, and it thinks commercially viable technology could be ready as soon as 2030.
    The United States generated nearly 10% of its total electricity from wind and solar power in 2018. Add to that 7% from hydropower and 20% from nuclear, and the country generated approximately 37% of its electricity from zero-carbon sources last year -- a remarkable figure. Considering onshore wind and solar are now among the lowest-cost sources of new generation, as well as the approaching advances in electric vehicles, energy storage, offshore wind power, and EGS, it's clear there's reason for plenty of optimism about America's pace of decarbonization. Investors will certainly want exposure to renewables at large.