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This week In #CleanTech August 27, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of August 27, 2017.

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Image Credit via Pixabay by AmberAvalona. Under Public Domain via the Creative Commons

The US Southwest is becoming a major player within the US renewable energy sector. Ecowatch.com earlier this week had written a good summary on the rise of clean power within the region. The article points to four southwest state ranking in the top ten in total solar capacity: Arizona (No.3), Nevada (#4), Utah (#6), and Texas (#9). Many southwest states also are becoming major players within the wind energy markets. Texas ranks number one in total capacity nationally with 21.044 GW, Kansas 5th  with 5.1 GW, and Colorado 10th with 3.026GW, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Ecowatch.com attributes a combination of declining prices for renewables, the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy, which is attracting utilities to increase clean power capacity. If that was not enough many southwestern cities have pledged to commit to the Paris climate agreement including Houston, Denver, Phoenix, Reno, and Tucson.

Considering this region has an abundant in solar energy potential, the region can seriously become a big-time player within the US renewable energy game. Policy makers, business, and regional non-governmental organizations will need to all work together in ensuring they are on the train.

Mexico announced this week they are planning to go in on upgrade their grid infrastructure. According to BNAmericas.com the Latin American giant said they plan to put $646 USD million into smart grids over the next eight years. Mexican utility CFE said this year alone they plan to invest approximately $794 USD million in updating transmission and distribution networks. This would allow private and pubic utilities to improve electricity service to consumers.

Mexican Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said in a presentation to an audience Mexico can take advantage of current day technology and communications, while utilizing the skills and knowledge of its people to provide a modern-day  safe, efficient and effective grid.

As more renewables are coming onto the grid, smart grid implementation is increasing. Estimates have smart grid markets reaching a total of $120 USD billion by 2020, according to Zion Research.

And finally, The Manitoba Environmental Industries Association is hosting the first annual Western CleanTech Innovation Forum at the Winnipeg Convention Centre November 29th and 30th. The conference will feature 34 technical presentations, and key note presentations from Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of Carbon Shift:  How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change will Define the Future, and Terry O’Reilly of This I Know. For registration, you can go to the (MEIA) website for more information.

Have a question on cleantech or climate policy? Drop a line at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

This week In #CleanTech August 20, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of August 20, 2017.

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Australia Flag via Pixabay By becca282bl. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons

Australia is getting a big boost in its wind energy capacity. According to Fortune, General Electric (GE) announced they would add a total of 123 turbines at a wind farm, 250 km north-west of Brisbane Australia. Currently, the plant has a capacity of 453MW. It will be the largest addition to Australia’s wind capacity, increasing it by 10%.

Fortune notes the project would potentially provide clean power for 260,000 homes, and slash carbon emissions by 1.18 million tonnes yearly.

It’s good news for Australia, who is gaining traction in renewable energy capacity. Australia has over 5.5GW in total solar capacity, according to the Australia Energy Council, while there has been 4.3GW of wind energy installed, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Australia is far behind other countries, including China, US, and Germany on wind power.

Austin, Texas raised the bar this week when it comes to being powered by clean power. City council approved a plan where city utility Austin Energy must have 65% of its power come from renewables by 2027, according to The Austin Monitor. Currently, Austin Energy was on track to reach its previous goal of 55% renewables by 2025. Approximately 32% of Austin’s energy is coming from clean energy sources.

There was a debate on what the updated goal should be, as some within the community wanted to have the city reach a 75% target by 2027.

However, after concerns were brought up a more ambitious goal in the short run would execute the risk of the city losing its utility in the future as many Republican state senators would like Austin energy privatized.

Austin, Texas, is one of the more liberal cities in Texas and is well-known for its South By South West festival, which discusses the hottest issues in technology, music, and culture.

Austin’s plan to increase its renewable energy sources is a very good move and showcases its tradition of being a progressive city, yet faces the challenges of being hamstrung by a state government who does not necessarily share its values.

And finally, check out my review of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, where I go over the Al Gore’s sequel to the 2006 ground breaking documentary on climate change. I also review why the sequel has not reached the box office heights of its predecessor, thanks to a changing platform landscape.

Have a question on cleantech or climate policy? Drop a line at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

The Art of the Global Climate Deal: Review- An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Synopsis: Al Gore returns with an update to  2006’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT). An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power provides solid climate science, and a unique backstage pass of how global climate change political deals are done.

**** out of 5 stars

Its been eleven years since Al Gore’s ground breaking documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. It was released to critical acclaim and won Best Documentary at the 2006 Academy Awards and was a box office success, as Al Gore brought the issue of global warming to the public forefront.

Fast Forward to 2017, and we get An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (AIS:TTP) Call it AIT 2.0. The movie provides a good mix of climate science, economics, and global politics, all wrapped in one basket. The documentary gives a backstage pass of high stakes climate policy poker at the maximum level, which provides extra documentary value for the viewer.

This is what sells AIS:TTP as a compelling well thought out documentary. AIS:TTP has a balanced mix of showing the science of climate change, and its effects and tying it into the recent clean technology trends.

The opening section has Gore taking a jaw dropping trip to Greenland to see the effects of climate change there, melting area ice glaciers. In one scene, you can see the glaciers, crumble faster than an imploded house, which you could have taken out of a 1980’s science fiction movie. However, this is happening now and not in some science fiction flick.

If that does not make you think something is wrong, the Gore’s slides showing the effects of climate change from extreme weather events will get you pondering why we are seeing more of these violent weather phenomena (ranging from dramatic floods in Louisiana to wildfires in Alberta). Gore gives you a “walk through the book of Revelations” as he genuinely puts it into perspective for the public to understand how we see climate change risks in 2017.

While AIS:TTP does show the severe risks society is facing with climate change, it also showcases the rapid rise of cleantech since the original film. I was pleased how there was a good discussion of how the economics of wind energy, electric vehicles, and especially solar power worked out since AIT. Gore hits the point home of how much the price of renewables has fallen, especially solar today (which has dropped from $77.00/watt forty years ago to around $0.55/watt)

This also plays a critical aspect behind the second point of why this documentary works: AIS:TTP gives you a front-row access to the challenges, and deals behind the Paris climate agreement and how renewable energy policy plays a significant role in this deal. I appreciated how the films show you, as a viewer, of not only how the dynamics of global politics play out in the 21st century, but also how technology is attempting to bridge the gap for infrastructure for developing countries, including India. Consider India ranked fourth in global carbon emissions in the world, and is a rapidly growing player in the global economy. This leads to the film dynamic of India arguing they need to advance their economy to improve their citizen’s lives. Even if it means using fossil fuels, as Gore works feverishly in the lead up and during the COP21 in Paris to find a way to get India on side in signing onto the Paris agreement. Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk do an excellent job of not letting any stone unturned in the behind the scenes political dealings, and the aftermath of the Paris climate agreement. It gives viewers in understanding the scope and scale of how political deals not only work, but the importance in an era of Trump and anti global sentiment, of why building global political capital is critical, especially in the 21st Century.

While AIS:TTP is very strong, the only down point of this film was at times it felt like an update, rather than something new. AIS:TTP does a good job on updating info about the science, risks related to climate change, and the economic benefits of falling cleantech prices. That is what any good updates should do, is provide the public with the most up to date information for them to make educated decisions on the main issues which will affect their livelihoods.

That is what you I guess you should expect from sequels to documentaries: Good solid updated information, but nothing earth shattering. This is why its hard for sequels to documentaries to be wildly successful. That lies part of the challenge why AIS:TTP has not done so well, compared to the original, where AIT made $50 USD million. This film will not even come close to making what the original did.

Another reason why AIS:TTP has been lackluster at the box office has been Paramount Pictures having it in limited release for opening weekend, then only adding a few selected theatres the week after. In Winnipeg, it did not open up on August 4th, but rather the next week August 11th. There has been disappointment amongst environmentalists on the lackadaisical promotional strategy by Paramount Pictures.

Third, and the primary reason why AIS:TTP has not done as well is that there are much more options in distributing and seeing films. Although in 2006, when AIT came out the Internet was around, there were not as many streaming options as there is in 2017. Today, in an age of Netflix, there are so many ways to distribute a film, including digital download, Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming services. Factor in going to see a movie cost around $10.00 and you wonder if it’s not just  AIS:TTP, but documentaries in general, which could be more suited for these different distribution platforms, and achieve a high reach of engaged viewers. Look for example the critically acclaimed documentary, Sons of Ben, which focuses on the rise the soccer supporters group, which played a critical role in landing the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer. It gained critical acclaim while reaching a wide audience amongst both the soccer community and public.

Despite these challenges, AIS:TTP is a definite must-see in a year of weak movies (Besides Dunkirk). A likely Best Documentary contender at Academy Awards time. Go see This film. Not only to be inspired by the rise of the sustainability revolution through the sharp price drops in renewable energy, not only for the updates on the increased risks of climate change towards society, but go see it for the most important part: Go to it for The Art of The Global Climate Deal. This will be the invaluable lesson you will get, and ensure we strive to limit the worst impacts of climate change, while we help developing nations leap-frog past their dirty fossil fuel infrastructure.

 

This week In #CleanTech August 6, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of August 6, 2017.

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Image Credit via Pixabay by Clker-Free-Vector-Images. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons.

California is one step of reaching its state being powered on 100% by renewable energy by 2045. According to Salon.com, the California passed a bill this week which was introduced by Democrat Kevin de Leon, would allow the state to receive all of its power within twenty-eight years from various sources of renewable energy, including the wind, solar, and biofuels. Currently, the Golden State has plans on having half of its power from renewables by 2030. The bill is expected to reach Governor Jerry Brown’s desk soon and be in law. California is at the forefront of the US’s renewable energy backbone, including leading in total solar capacity in 2016. Jerry Brown has battled US president Donald Trump for backing away from the Paris climate agreement. A move to going 100% by 2045 would only cement California’s leadership role in the battle on climate change while sending a message towards Trump on this issue being of key importance moving forward.

Meanwhile, in Manitoba Canada, a new coalition was formed this week into pressuring Premier Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government to support a carbon pricing plan. According to CBC.ca, The Manitoba Carbon Pricing Coalition announced during a press conference at the Manitoba Legislature this past Thursday, that having a price on carbon is essential to reduce carbon emissions, as Manitoba needs to do its part in battling climate change. Currently, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the only two provinces not opting in yet on the federal government’s emission pricing proposal. Under this idea, each province must have either a cap-and trade (Ontario), carbon tax (Alberta) or both. Federal Environmental Minister Catherine McKenna said in June both Manitoba and Saskatchewan would lose out on financing to reduce carbon emissions, if neither has a plan in place. Manitoba’s government has stated that they are working on a “made in province” solution towards a plan, yet have been slow in providing details. Currently, the Pallister government has asked University of Manitoba law expert, Bryan Schwartz, to see if it’s constitutional for the federal government to have the authority to put carbon pricing requests on Manitoba.

Is there enough will power to support a carbon price in Manitoba? Or does the idea of carbon pricing need further education? Or perhaps now this is the best time to talk about a complete revamp of the current income tax system in Manitoba/Canada to make it more inclusive for carbon pricing without hurting the most vulnerable? What do you think? Drop a line at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

This week In #CleanTech July 23, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of July 23, 2017.

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Image Credit via Pixabay by lukabieri. Under Public Domain via Credit Commons

General Electric’s (GE) renewable energy section saw a strong profit jump in the first half of 2017. According to reNEWS, GE’s cleantech division showed a gain of $267US billion, up from $211US billion (27%) for the first six months of 2016. A big wind turbine order for Invenergy’s Texas wind farm and collaboration with Fortum’s digital hydro plant in Sweden provided underlying support for GE, reNEWS noted. Overall, GE renewable energy business earned $4.5US billion, another big jump compared to the first half of 2016 ($3.8US billion). GE’s investments in renewable energy were perhaps one of the few highlights for the multinational company, whose revenue was 2% for the first half of 2017, compared to the first six months of 2016. GE Jeffrey Immelt in recent years have been adamant on the need for going big on renewable energy investment, as he sees it as a key growth sector. He even urged US president Donald Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord. Too bad, Trump did not see it that way. Moving forward in the second half of 2017, it will be interesting how not only GE’s overall financial performance is but their cleantech section. If GE’s renewable energy continues to grow, while the rest of the company’s margins drop, expect more investors eyes to glaze over GE’s renewable energy portfolio.

In India, Tata Power will infuse $90US million in Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited. CleanTechnica.com said the Indian company would use the financing to support large-scale solar projects totaling 320MW. Currently, Tata Power has 2GW worth in wind and solar energy projects. Although India is one of the highest carbon emitting countries on Earth, they are also becoming an emerging leader in the global renewable energy markets. Earlier this spring, India had passed 12GW of solar installed, more than four times of total capacity in 2014 (2.650GW). Concerns over extreme weather events from a changing climate, reducing energy poverty, while utilizing clean power, are some reasons why India is building on its renewable energy investments in recent years.

Just when you thought 2017 would not be one of the hottest years on record, you could be wrong. According to Scientific American, global temperatures have been 1.64F above the global temperature average (56.3F) this year. If everything continues at this pace, 2017, will be the second hottest year, just behind last year, 2016.

What scientists are stumped is how high the temperature increase is. Scientific American notes in periods after El-Nino, global heat patterns would drop or stay flat. However, temperatures have continued to go up, even without El-Nino. Gavin Schmidt predicts a 57% chance 2017 will be the second warmest year in the planet’s history, only behind 2016.

With increasing temperatures also increases the risks of extreme weather, according to analysts. This year is holding those patterns valid all over the globe. Ontario February thunderstorms, record rainfall in eastern Canada, causing flooding, to British Columbia wildfires are just some of the extreme weather events which have played across Canada this year. Meanwhile, Futurism said 2017 in the US has been one of the wettest and hottest recorded.

Perhaps Climate Progress said it best when “This matters because when a month — or six-month period — see record high global temperatures in the absence of an El Niño, that is a sign the underlying global warming trend is stronger than ever.”

Do you think GE’s Renewable Energy division will continue being a bright spot heading into the last six months? Do you think 2017 will be the second hottest year on the planet?

Drop a line with your thoughts at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

Energy As A Service Market to Reach $221.1 US Billion by 2026: Report

Although a relatively new business model, commercial & industrial (CI) Energy as a Service (EaaS) is expected to dramatically grow within the next decade, based on a new report.

According to cleantech research firm Navigant Research, the CI EaaS market by 2026 will reach $221.1 US billion.

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Image Credit via Pixabay by bykst. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons

Changes in the delivery of energy are the driving factor behind the rise of EaaS companies. In the old days, consumers would (and still do on many levels) get their energy from a central source (your local utility), be charged and billed a monthly rate. Some months your energy bill would be higher (winter and summer months especially) than others.

However, today we are seeing a shift being played out on the energy market stage. Navigant Research notes energy companies and sustainability managers are taking advantage of new business models and digitized technologies, which are helping to decentralize the energy markets.

“Navigant Research anticipates that these evolving grid and customer factors will converge to give rise to demand for vendor-based business model disruptors that can provide turnkey energy as a service solutions (EaaS),” said Navigant’s website.

Eaas has lots of potential in making the customer energy experience as un-limitless as possible. EaaS providers can manage many aspects of a consumer’s energy needs. Examples include energy supply, energy use, asset & program management, and strategy, according to Navigant.

EaaS companies can use innovative services, financial solutions & technological tools to ensure clients are happy with their energy system.

Players within the EaaS ecosystem include standard utilities, third-party vendors, and start-up companies, who are providing disruptive solutions within the technical, financing and procurement within the energy market, according to Navigant Research.

As EaaS establish themselves; energy portfolios will be outsourced to fully equipped companies “with a comprehensive set of technical financing and deployment options.” According to Navigant.

This report is in line with an overall shift in societal attitudes on energy. Concerns over a warming planet due to climate change, falling renewable energy costs, and Millennials wanting more choice in energy options will only help to fuel EaaS platforms heading into the third decade of the new millennium. Add other underlying factors including sharp price drop on lithium-ion batteries needed to make battery storage units, plus 34 billion connected devices within the Internet of Things eco system by 2020 will ensure EaaS companies are going to have very profitable opportunities soon.

As Warren Buffet said, “energy deregulation will be the largest transfer of wealth in history.” EaaS will play a part in this. Shortly, consumers may have options besides a local energy utility thanks to possible EaaS platforms.

What do you think of EaaS? Will they become a serious option for consumers within the energy market over the next decade? What has to happen for EaaS to grow not only in the US but Canada/Manitoba? Feel free to email at salayconsulting@gmail.com, or follow on Twitter at @salayservices.

This Week in #CleanTech- July 9, 2017

Welcome to the first of what were some of the hottest, most interesting stories related to cleantech, and climate policy. This column will appear at the end of the week.

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Image Credit via Pixabay. Under Public Domain Via Creative Commons

France this week announced they were banning the sale of combustible engine vehicles by 2040. Germany and had followed suit last year, banning sales of gas and diesel cars by 2030, and, while Norway is targeting for zero emission cars by 2025. No word if Canada or the United States plan to do likewise anytime soon, and its very unlikely this will occur. However, anything is possible given a study last year points to 2025 were all vehicles sold will be electric, and this year seems its electric vehicle’s (EV’s) watershed moment, with all these news stories that keep occurring.

Tesla announced this week it’s building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage facility. According to TechCrunch.com, the plant will be completed by December 2017 at Australia’s Hornsdale Wind farm. Tesla Commercial battery storage PowerPack will store total capacity of 100 MW/129 MWh, while capture the wind power during high points of the day and use when necessary. Tesla revealed its PowerWall for residential consumers, and PowerPack for commercial users, to revolutionize the battery storage market, which is critical for resolving intermittency problems with the wind and solar power.

Minnesota gave its blessing to Xcel Energy for the largest expansion of wind energy in the north US MidWest. According to Electric, Lights & Power, Xcel plans to build a total of 1,550 MW of new wind farms across North, South Dakota, and Minnesota by 2020. Xcel will own 1,150 MW, while the remaining 400 MW will be bought by Xcel, thanks to long-term Power Purchasing Agreements (PPA).  When completed in three years, the 1550 MW of wind power will provide 800,000 homes with a clean energy source. Currently, Minnesota ranks sixth overall in the US installed wind capacity with 3,499 MW, while North Dakota has 2,846 MW, and, South Dakota with 977 MW, according to American Wind Energy Association.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared on Thursday his city has more at stake than any other city in the world when it comes to climate change. Climate Progress notes the mayor released a climate policy plan which targets eliminating its cities carbon emissions in half by 2030. Twelve years ago, category three storm Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans and cost insurance $41.7 billion USD. The storm also kickstarted a serious discussion between extreme weather events and climate change in North America.

And finally, in the cute story of the week, China Merchants New Energy Group decided to uniquely design their latest solar farm in Datong China, to look like a panda. Business Insider said the cleantech firm plans to build more panda style solar farms, like the 248-acre one just built.

What did you think was the biggest or unique story in the cleantech world? was there anything missing from this list. Feel free to reach out. Follow us on Twitter at @salayservices, or by email at salayconsulting@gmail.com

Electric Vehicles Are Reaching Their “iPhone” Moment in 2017

When the history books come to pass on 2017, one will look on this year as to where electric vehicles (EV’s) had its “iPhone moment.”

A decade ago, Apple released its revolutionary product. Although smartphones were around before, the iPhone helped change a lot of things. It helped changed how smartphones, and eventually the public warmed to mobile computing. It helped create new spillover industries while flipping old ones upside down.

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Image Credit via Pixabay. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons.

Three factors are contributing this year to why EV’s are reaching that watershed or “iPhone” moment.

EV’s are becoming More Affordable as Battery Prices Plummet: The first shipments of Tesla’s Model 3 have now begun to hit the streets. Initially showcased last year, Elon Musk’s company took 373,000 in reservations as of March 2017. What is so special about this car? It’s Tesla’s first EV into the affordable mass consumer market at $35,000 USD a piece. One of the criticisms with EV’s was the initial excessive costs for consumers.

However, declining lithium-ion battery prices are now making it more affordable to mass produce EV’s, along with Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

With batteries coming less costly, EV’s are nearing a tipping point where they are near cost competitive with combustible engine vehicles. A recent report underlines this. By 2025, all new vehicles will be electric. It’s especially important to know given the Paris climate agreement requires all participants keep CO2 levels well below 2C while aiming for 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.  Transportation alone creates 23% of all carbon emissions, according to the World Bank. Thus, creating affordable, clean tech transportation options at the mass consumer level is essential in cutting carbon emissions out from transportation.

While other companies, including Nissan, Chevy already produce EV’s. Tesla has had critical acclaim with its prior other models, including the Model S. Just like how the iPhone 10 years ago was synonymous with smartphones.

Companies are Going All In on EV’s: 2017 is also the breaking point where companies are making plans to slam the brakes on fossil fuel based vehicles.

Volvo recently announced by 2019 they will cease to make combustion engine vehicles, and manufacture only EV’s or hybrids. This is the silver bullet car manufacturers need to go all-electric. In 2007, Apple entering the smartphone market with the iPhone helped lure other companies, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Nokia, and Chinese tech companies to get into the smartphone game, providing more consumer choice. Smartphone costs also came crashing down to insanely low levels. It’s now possible to get a smartphone for $32 (compared to $499 or $599 US in 2007 for an iPhone). While it’s highly unlikely anyone will see an EV for $32 in their lifetime, it’s entirely possible as more entrants flood the market, prices will drop to make EV’s even more affordable for Main Street.

 

Global Policy: You can also thank public policy makers around the world around the globe for helping contribute to EV’s watershed moment happening now.

While Trump dumped the Paris accord, other countries are strengthening their ties by supporting cleantech. France recently announced earlier this week by 2040. They will be eliminating the sale of all petrol fuelled based vehicles. Last year, Germany vowed to do the same by 2030. Policy makers are helping to shift towards cleaner vehicles, which adds another layer towards EV’s becoming a real force.

Thomas Friedman’s 2016 book Thank You For Being Late discussed how in 2007 was the watershed moment for many key technologies, ranging from cloud computing storage, solar energy, and smartphones.  Ten years later, thanks to declining lithium-ion battery prices, companies moving towards just electric cars, and supporting legislation, are helping EV’s have their “iPhone moment.”

So what you think? Has electric vehicles reached their watershed moment this year? You can reach me on Twitter at @salaysevices, or by email at salayservies@gmail.com

 

Analysis: REthinking 2017 Accelerating the Global Energy Transformation

Reports are key indicators of where modern trends are going. That’s especially true with developing industries like renewable energy. Report after report have only confirmed renewable energy is shaking up traditional energy markets.

The International Renewable Energy Association’s (IRENA) REthinking Energy: Accelerating the Global Energy Transformation confirms these trends. IRENA recently released their findings in energy and policy development.

According to the report, global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity reached 219 gigawatts (GW) in 2015, more than five times the capacity in 2010 (40 GW). This trend is expected to continue with new global PV capacity in 2017 supposed to reach 79 GW, according to an IHS technology report. By 2030, solar PV capacity could account for 7% of total global power generation.

What’s been helpful for solar energies rise to the top has been sharp declines in prices. In many countries, solar prices have reached new lows, according to IRENA. Solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many nations. Solar PV prices have fallen by 80% since 2009, said IRENA.

Wind power is also strong. Currently according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), global capacity reached 432.33 GW in 2015, 63.48 GW more than from in 2014.

IRENA said wind turbines prices have fallen by one-third since 2009. Even without government support, onshore wind farms are cost competitive or less than gas-fired power plants, oil, or coal, according to IRENA.

Falling prices in both wind and solar have not only increased capacity but investment, as these two technologies captured a whopping 90% of 2015 global renewable energy investments.

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Photo Credit via Pixabay by Steppinstars. Under Public Domain by the Creative Commons.

While the wind and solar power’s growing energy prowess is necessary, battery storage units, which can store both these technologies when needed during non-peak periods will play a critical role going forward. By 2020, IRENA expects this growing market to reach USD $14 billion, up from USD $2.2 billion in 2015. Falling lithium-ion battery costs, along with Tesla’s Powerwall are giving glimpses of its potential. By 2030, IRENA projects battery storage for electricity could reach 250 GW, nearly 250 times more than currently.

Policy-wise, the move towards cleaner sources of energy is helping move nations in the right direction. Currently, 170 countries have created renewable energy targets, while 150 have a policy in place to boost renewable energy investments, IRENA said.

This strong support by countries overwhelmingly to transition to renewable energy has seen strong global investments this century. In 2004, this figure was USD $50 billion. In 2015, renewable energy investment reached a record USD $348 billion.

Emerging market countries including China and India have been serious players. China recently has said they are committed to spending USD $361 billion through 2020 on renewables. Meanwhile, accounting firm Ernst & Young’s 2016 report pointed to developing nations including Egypt, Mexico, and Chile are becoming hotspots for renewable energy investors compared to European markets.

There will be challenges, including the new US administration lead by Donald Trump who has vowed cut backs in renewable energy investments and may pull out of the Paris climate accord.

However, countries, including China are promising to pick up the slack and pull away in the cleantech race.

IRENA’s analysis of the cleantech market proves renewable energy on the global level, will only become more competitive and transform energy markets.

To read IRENA’s full report, view here.

 

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