The aim of this guide is to get an objective idea of what the future of renewable energy might look like.
To do this, we look at some of the current trends to do with renewable energy, and look at how they might develop going forward.
Summary – What Is The Future Of Renewable Energy
The amount of renewable energy being used for electricity worldwide has significantly increased over the last few decades
Hydropower currently provides the most electricity of any renewable energy source
The next logical sectors to progress into (in terms of energy generation from renewables) over the medium to long term after the power/electricity sector are, transport, and heating and cooling, which are primarily fossil fuel driven at the moment
Investment in renewables has increased over the last decade – with solar and wind receiving majority of global investment money
The number of cities sourcing an increasing amount of their electricity from renewables has grown over the past decade (e.g. As of January 2018, 42 cities were getting at least 100% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, 59 cities were at at least 70%, and 22 cities at at least 50%)
There’s also roughly 12 countries at the moment that are sourcing over 90% of their electricity from renewables
Looking at these stats, and as long as investment and government support is strong, it’s expected renewable energy use will keep on growing, especially as the cost for renewables becomes more competitive compared to fossil fuels (due to economies of scale, increased demand, fossil fuels becoming more expensive with new environmental regulations and requirements for eco friendly fossil fuel plants, and so on)
New technologies that enable better storage of renewable energy as one example, or Artificial Intelligence technology and systems helping in maximizing renewable energy as another example, could help make renewable energy more appealing in several ways
There are many cities and countries with renewable energy targets for the future (i.e. by the years 2025, 2030, 2040 and 2050)
China is currently the world leader in both renewable energy generation and consumption, and renewable energy investment.
But, China is also the world leader in coal use
There are a number of factors that can impact how quickly a country or city will look to transition to an energy mix with an increasing share of renewables and reduced fossil fuels.
Each town, city, region, country (especially developed vs developing countries) has different factors, variables and scenarios they face with a transition.
Some places (like the MidWest and California in the US for example) are pushing harder for renewables than others
There are a number of studies and published reports that indicate we can run on renewables (either in majority in an energy mix, or in full) either globally or on a country by country basis, with solar, wind and hydro (pumped hydro energy storage energy) being some of the major suggested renewable energy sources
There are challenges with transitioning to renewables, such as the issues faced by Germany and China (like variability, not having an upgraded power grid, not having adequate transmission lines, upfront costs, and more)
There are many potential benefits as well though, including addressing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, reducing air pollution, creation of jobs, addressing scarcity of fossil fuel resources, energy independence, reducing the impact of mining and other environmental issues, and more
Below are some relevant guides that provide more insight on where we may potentially be heading with the use of renewable energy sources in the future for both electricity, and the overall energy needs of our societies:
Current Energy & Electricity Mixes Of Some Of The Major Countries In The World
Installed Capacity, Production & Consumption Of Renewable Energy Worldwide
Countries & Cities That Use The Most Renewable Energy
Countries That Invest The Most In Renewable Energy
Future Of Energy In China
Future Of Energy In The United States
Can Renewables Replace Fossil Fuels, Meet Demand, & Power The World?
Other Resources On Renewable Energy
1. Various BMR guides