The electricity in our sockets may seem the same, but the way it is generated is changing.
Here are five stories which show how renewable energy technologies are driving a new low carbon revolution:
1. Renewable energy is growing faster than expected. Renewable generation broke another record in the second quarter of this year. Almost 30% of electricity came from renewable sources during the period from April 1st to June 30th, according to figures published this week.
The International Energy Agency raised their five-year forecast for renewables this week after a record amount of new hydropower, solar, wind, bioenergy, wave and tidal in 2016.
Our new client, BSR Group (British Solar Renewables) manages 6% of the utility scale solar generation in the UK, including the four largest solar parks and is responsible for building more than 600 MW of solar, and manages and maintains some of the largest solar parks across the UK.
2. Renewable sources of energy are becoming cheaper faster than expected. The first solar park to be built in the UK without subsidies opened this week. The 10MW park in Bedfordshire, developed by Anesco, will generate enough energy to supply approximately 2,500 homes. While the development costs were somewhat reduced because some of the infrastructure was already in place, the project is a major milestone, showing how far solar power has come.
It’s not just solar power prices which are changing. It may now be cheaper to generate electricity from offshore wind than natural gas. In September this year, many energy analysts were surprised when an auction awarded contracts for two offshore wind projects, with prices below the price of generation from a new gas-fired power station. This price has come down far faster than government projections.
3. Battery storage is becoming cheaper. Driven by rapid growth in electric vehicles and electronic goods, the cost of battery technology fell by more than three quarters between 2010 and 2016.
As renewable sources of energy increase, it is becoming more important to store electricity for times without wind or sun. Large-scale battery technology is developing fast.
Moixa is one company pioneering new ways of using batteries. The company’s GridShare platform amalgamates batteries across the UK in a ‘virtual power plant,’ supporting higher levels of renewable energy. We help our client Moixa take a leading role in the media debate – here is a BBC Click episode on battery technology.
4. An increasing number of leading companies are sourcing 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. Enough leading companies have now signed up to the RE100 campaign to collectively power New York State.
In the UK, our client Smartest Energy is the UK’s first independently certified 100% renewable electricity supplier for businesses, and it seeing significant demand from high profile organisations wanting to switch to 100% renewable energy.
5. Fossil fuel investment increasingly at risk. It seems even the largest companies cannot fight against the tide. The five biggest power utilities in Europe lost 37% of their value between 2008 and 2013, in part due to their over-reliance on coal, according to analysis carried out by Carbon Tracker.
Several smart companies are already moving out of fossil fuel industries. The latest is DONG Energy (Danish Oil and Natural Gas), which is changing its name to Ørsted, reflecting a move to sell its oil and gas business to move into 100% renewable energy.
These stories show that there is a huge momentum in the renewable energy industry, going from almost nothing to a major global force in a couple of decades. We work with pioneering companies and organisations at the forefront of this movement for change – if you have a story to tell about the energy transition, please get in touch.