With decreasing costs, the promise of renewable energy will be realized sooner than we think. Although renewable energy has several advantages to its credit and is the need of the hour, high costs associated with renewable energy have proven to be a major stumbling block.
Steady Decline in Renewable Energy Costs
But with scientific advancements and innovations such as AI in renewable energy, the cost of renewable energy has been on a steady downward trajectory over the years. As many homeowners would know, photovoltaics for solar energy were far more expensive two decades back. And it is not just solar energy but other forms of renewable energy such as wind power that are becoming increasingly competitive thanks to technological advancements.
The cost-effectiveness and competitiveness of renewable energy has reached a point where it is now feasible even without subsidies. Over the past decades, governments had to extend high subsidy amounts to encourage consumers and businesses to go solar. But solar panels, wind turbines and other renewables have now become so inexpensive, that many people can now afford to buy them even without government subsidies.
Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels
Renewable energy has in fact become cheaper than electricity generated through fossil fuels – utility-scale solar PV and offshore wind power being the main contributors to this. This key development was mentioned in a report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The in-depth report showed the cost of installing renewable energy sources in various countries for photovoltaic solar panels. The report shows how the cost of PV solar panels has fallen over the years to the point where it is now directly competing with fossil fuels.
The report took into account all possible costs associated with the installation of PV solar panels including hardware costs (control, monitoring, safety, wiring, grid connection, racking, mounting, inverters and modules), installation costs (inspection, electrical installation as well as mechanical installation), as well as assorted costs like customer acquisition, incentive application, permitting, system design, financing and profit margin costs. The study included all possible costs associated with the installation of solar panels.
Wind and solar power are now so cheap that they are very much viable in many parts of the world and not just in developed countries. And the good news is that further price drops are expected to continue over the next decade. This presents superb investment opportunities since further price cuts could make renewable energy remarkably more competitive than fossil fuels.
Increased Developments in Renewable Energy Globally
In addition to the falling cost of renewable energy, there is also increased interest from governments and private entities alike which will make renewable energy even more attractive in the future. With increased collaboration between the public and private sectors across the globe, adoption of renewable energy will accelerate worldwide. There are many reasons why governments and private entities are striving for increased adoption of renewable energy. Problems like climate change, high costs of fossil fuels, environmental problems from fossil fuel combustion and the limited reserves of oil and gas mean that the world must act fast to avert disastrous consequences in the future. Renewable energy is a comprehensive answer to all of these critical problems.
The adoption of renewable energy is indispensable for achieving the environmental objectives of the Paris Agreement. Renewable energy will help governments to attain objectives like reduced carbon emissions and pollution. These objectives are necessary for protecting the environment from global warming and bring down pollution which is responsible for millions of deaths worldwide each year. Renewable energy will help to save lives and the earth itself.
The Renewable Global Status Report has indicated that renewable energy accounts for more than a fifth of global electricity generation.
Hydrogen in Renewable Energy
Although hydrogen is a clean burning fuel that produces only water upon combustion, it is currently produced largely through fossil fuels. With falling costs of renewables, hydrogen generation will soon be shifted to renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels. We may soon have truly clean hydrogen fuel that leaves a minimal impact on the environment. Hydrogen produced thus can also be used to power fuel cells which will revolutionize electricity generation and storage.
Machine Learning and Renewable Energy
Machine learning in renewable energy is also another exciting technological development. Machine learning and AI can assist renewable energy generation and make it more feasible through accurate forecasts and improved electricity distribution.
Besides cost, another major problem with renewable energy is that output can be unpredictable. Cloudy weather can hinder solar panels and calm weather can impede wind turbines from generating renewable electricity. To cover this shortage in electricity production, fossil fuel burning power houses need to be activated. But without accurate forecasts, this can be expensive. The development of machine learning and AI can provide accurate forecasts for peak shaving and reduce the operating costs associated with unexpected demand spikes.
Renewable Energy Is the Future
The global environmental crisis where rising temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, as well as sea levels, pose a threat to world means that renewable energy is vital for saving the world.
As of now, over four and a half million people around the world die directly as a result of environmental pollution according to the World Health Organization. The number of people who suffer health problems due to air pollution is probably much higher. Renewable energy can help to cut down on pollution dramatically and thus save countless millions of people each year from early death and suffering.
Renewable energy is more than just lower bills. The survival of future generations depends on it. Worldwide adoption of renewable energy is vital for averting global warming and pollution. Renewable energy is our answer for a safe and sustainable future.