There are few industries changing as quickly and as dramatically as the energy industry. The movement from centralised to decentralised energy networks is well underway.
An ever depleting supply of fossil fuels and a growing global commitment to tackle the climate crisis has set the stage for a revolution in the way we buy, use, generate and store energy.
Recent years have witnessed an explosion of renewable energy supply, the slow death of coal and improvements in the digitisation of energy management in the workplace and the household. So what trends can we expect over the next twelve months and how will these impact UK consumers?
The Big Picture
One trend that’s sure to continue is the tumbling cost of renewables. The price of solar power has plumetted by 80% in ten years and is expected to halve again by 2020. Offshore wind has witnessed an even greater fall in price, with costs decreasing by an amazing 50% in just 24 months as knowledge and technology improve.
Speaking at a recent conference on sustainability, the Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Mr Adnan Amin, said:
“the scale and pace of the transformation has accelerated, and this is leading to very significant structural changes to the energy system around the world”.
As costs continue to fall, the economics of renewables become increasingly appealing. Some experts predict global oil demand to peak as soon as 2020 and to decline thereafter, in part due to a rising uptake of electric vehicles.
The Rise and Rise of EVs
Perhaps the greatest shift in energy consumption will come with electric vehicles.
As with other renewable technologies, the costs decline as production ramps up and economies of scale take hold. The number of electric cars on UK roads has risen from 3,500 in 2013 to 125,000 today. This trend is not just because of improved affordability.
A shift in the public’s perception of ‘EV’s,’ plus better consumer choice, an improved network of charge points and reductions in charging time has made them an increasingly appealing alternative to petrol.
In 2018 we can expect to see ever more electric vehicles on our roads, which in turn will stimulate a greater demand for electricity and the further advance of renewables ; a perfect feedback loop!
During 2018, there will be greater exploration of the benefits that EVs can bring to local energy networks in helping balance supply and demand in our communities.
In our next energy trends blog, we’ll take a look at the impacts we can expect from the Government’s smart meter rollout, as well as the game-changing role that battery storage will soon play in the energy industry.
The World Bank has decided to support the climate pledges made in the Paris Agreement and take radical steps to decarbonise the world by halting funding for fossil fuel industries after 2019.
This is a significant gesture that will not only help in the mitigation process to limit global warming to 2°C by the end of the century, it also gives a green light for more investment in renewable energy around the world. It might be the breakthrough we have been waiting for as it presents big opportunities to develop promising clean technologies that have suffered from a lack of investment.
This will hopefully mean an acceleration of renewable energy projects around the globe, and the creation of many new job opportunities for communities that desperately need them. Furthermore, we will all be able to enjoy such benefits as decreased levels of pollution, cleaner air, and a healthier climate!
Another benefit of this decision is that it could help exciting new technologies become available for everyday use, such as solar panel-integrated windows or efficient energy storage systems.
We must remember that fazing out fossil fuels will not happen overnight. Polluting power stations will continue to operate for as long as they are financially viable and as long as they are supported by tax-breaks and subsidies from governments.
However, the fact that action is being taken by the World Bank, a major influential institution, brings hope that change is coming. This announcement not only sends a clear message that the days are numbered for the fossil fuel industry, but it simultaneously encourages governments and other institutions to follow suit.
Gyorgy Dallos, Greenpeace International climate campaigner, told The Guardian:
“The world’s financial institutions now need to take note and decide whether their financing is going to be part of the problem or the solution.” (2017, 12th Dec)
While there is still uncertainty ahead and a need to keep up the pressure, this news is a positive step and brings fresh wind into the energy sector. Please support BHESCo in creating our clean energy future by becoming a member.