Renewable technologies had a solid year of progress in 2014. Solar power is increasingly being acknowledged as a sustainable source of power moving forward. The distribution and sales of LED continued to rise and even large utilities began to investigate the true long-term value of coal-powered plants. So what should we expect from renewable energy trends in 2015? Here are some things to look out for!
100% Renewables Will Continue to Expand
While cynics might still keep broadcasting that renewables are nothing more than a niche offering, without the ability to power large enterprises with scalable electricity supply, 2015 should prove many of these critics wrong. Already in 2014, we saw multi-national companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.com (in terms of data centres) announced their roadmaps to achieve 100% renewables. Denmark is also already close to reaching its goal of 50% renewables on its electricity by 2020, with commitment to getting 100% for its entire energy supply by 2050.
Energy Storage Will Become Competitive
With the help of energy storage technologies it’s possible to ease the strain on the grid for many countries, including South Africa. Energy storage allows us to manage our energy supply more effectively creating a resilient and flexible energy infrastructure that will eventually influence reduced electricity costs. As the reliance on energy continues to grow and more renewable energy sources are utilised, the need and competition for energy storage solutions will increase. While costs are certainly still an issue, we should start to see this hurdle being addressed through avenues like solar power.
Increased Consumer Engagement
The role of the energy consumer should continue to grow and change into a more central one, rather than being passive in the marketplace. The growing concern about individual and household impacts on the environment has led to increased engagement around clean energy, as well as alternative solutions to relying solely on the grid. Consumers are now able to create micro-power plants on their roofs and properties through solar panels as an example.
Changing Work-force Landscapes
As renewable and clean energy sectors grow, so too will the type of jobs required for what is increasingly becoming one of our most complex industries. This will mean aligning new and old roles to incorporate the understanding and workings of renewable energy technology. These roles will include a wide range of professions, such as electricians, plumbers, building contractors, roofers and even real estate appraisers.
Here at home in South Africa, the hope is to see our natural resources put towards us becoming one of the key producers of renewable energies, in particular within solar and wind arenas. Supplying the local people with 100% renewable energy power could be the change required to eventually provide a clean and sustainable solution throughout Africa.