It is hard to argue with the consensus that there is widespread support for using renewable energy, particularly solar and wind energy which lead the way by being able to provide electricity without harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
The renewable energy industry is constantly evolving and expanding as new technologies open up the possibility of an ever-increasing reliance on clean energy sources.
Here is an overview of what is driving the demand for clean energy and what is in store for the future. There is a look at why solar power is expected to dominate, an insight into coal production costs and how that helps renewables, plus a prediction of a bright future for electric cars.
The terminal decline of fossil fuels
Although you can’t predict an end date with any degree of accuracy it is obvious that our planet is not capable of infinitely yielding the fossil fuels that we use to generate energy forever.
Aside from the sustainability issues, there are some huge environmental concerns to consider as a result of the levels of carbon dioxide emissions that come with the territory of burning fossil fuels like coal.
The solution to the problem is all around us in the form of the sun, wind, sea and the earth itself, which is why there has been such a drive to develop solar and wind power technology, along with developments relating to biomass fuels.
As we have developed a greater capability to harness and store power from these natural resources to produce green energy, there has been a stellar growth in the use and demand for clean energy.
We are even getting ever closer to a point where wind and solar power will overtake natural gas and oil as the dominant energy source.
In addition to the environmental positives from these moves, many investors are also wondering how to interpret green initiatives and the impact it might have on the global energy markets. You might want to go to oilandenergyinvestor.com for more of an insight on that aspect of the renewable energy revolution.
It goes without saying that the sun dominates our world and it seems to be very clear that solar power also has the potential to become the most powerful and preeminent form of renewable energy.
The fundamental reason why this prediction is likely to be fulfilled is down to cost. There are have been some significant transformations in the solar industry brought about by technological advancements and this has brought the price of solar energy down as a result.
This has also seen battery prices fall and what we are witnessing is a snowball effect where greater volumes of solar energy being produced are resulting in cheaper storage costs and lower unit costs.
Put all this together and all of the components are there to allow solar energy to usurp wind power and become the dominant force in renewable energy.
It is worth looking at cost comparisons across all the major sources of renewable energy and seeing how they compare to fossil fuels.
Although president Trump has expressed an interest in reviving the coal industry, it is still likely that the average cost of coal generation will rise above current levels. The reason for this is because there are stricter environmental regulations being imposed on the industry which add to costs, and even if it was decided to open a new coal plant it would take about five years to build, in comparison to about six months to construct a solar plant.
Wind and solar energy cost are already achieving near parity with fossil fuels, but while the cost of producing fossil fuels is likely to rise for the reasons stated, demand and technology are helping to bring solar and wind energy costs down and they are expected to continue falling into the future.
It is perfectly possible that we reach a point even within the next five years where it will be hard to justify financing coal plants when you compare the costs associated with generating power from solar and wind.
Electric vehicles on the rise
The news doesn’t get any better for the oil industry when you consider the growth in electric vehicles.
Global sales of electric vehicles have already exceeded industry predictions in the last couple of years and the IEA are suggesting that half of all the new cars sold worldwide will be electric by 2040.
It seems that the demand for green energy will continue to surge and the industry appears well placed to satisfy those demands.
Zak Ford is an investor who is passionate about clean energy and paving a cleaner future for our children and grandchildren.