Rise in population and increased disposable income are two of the major drivers behind the growing demand for energy. As per market research, by 2035, the global population is expected to reach 8.7 billion, which would mean more energy requirement for the additional 1.6 billionpeople. Despite this increase in demand, the existing global energy system is falling short by a great extent. Things like turmoil in the Middle East, conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, and issues regarding nuclear power have further complicated the situation. Advancements in technology and efficiency have given some hope;but the global energy market needs sustained policies along with technology that would change the supply trends for the better.
Our world would come to a standstill without energy for it heats and lights our home, operates our businesses and powers our manufacturing plants and runs our vehicles. Energy is harnessed- starting from extraction, purification, transformation, storage, distribution and finally utilization- to fuel the growth of global economy. However, with increased demand, climate change and resource scarcity in play, the global leaders are rethinking about alternative methods and innovative solutions. These solutions using alternative energy would be economic and eventually substitute the more polluting traditional energy sources.
Currently, as per energy market analysis, half our energy demand is met using renewable sources. For the last three years, fossil fuels have generated two-thirds of the world’s energy demand.By 2050, it is expected that renewable energy resources could meet 77% of the global energy demand. Furthermore, with generating costs of geothermal, wind, solar and biomass energy falling, renewables are now being seen as more cost effective than ever before. However, despite the falling prices and increased investments, world leaders are hesitant about transitioning from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources. Also, there are doubts regarding the ability of consumer-based industries to keep up the manufacturing pace using renewable energy.
The following are four sectors, which can use renewable energy at the optimal levels. These sectors are tallied to identify opportunities and address the challenges.
The electricity sector: Solar and wind energy can produce electricity.The source is free and have no carbon dioxide emission. Furthermore, as technology advances, the costs involved in harnessing these powers for electricity are reducing over time. However, due to their intermittent nature, (the sun may not shine that day and the wind may not blow) the grid generating electricity from these sources needs to maintain back up. Besides this challenge, using electricity generated from solar or wind power needs corresponding battery or any other kind of storage capacity.
Analysis of the energy market has revealed that we are slowly addressing all the challenges surrounding electricity generation from wind and solar power. Currently, wind turbines and the solar photovoltaic cells are much more efficient which means that cost of electricity production has reduced considerably.
The transportation sector: Increased awareness about carbon dioxide emissions fuelled the demand for liquid biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel in the transportation sector. In road transportation, the renewable energy share was only 3.5% in 2014, up by 2% from 2007. Bio-fuel for jets is still innascent stage. To ensure growth, world leaders think that investments in renewable energy need to increase from USD 270 billion in 2014 to USD 400 billion by 2030 to help in complete transition to low carbon emitting economy.
The manufacturing sector: R&D investments and compliant government policies along with technological advances and new financing channels are proving to be potent in allocating public and private-sector resources for public welfare. All this is ensuring that the costs of renewable energy generation and energy efficiency upgrades would continue to grow, despite the recent fall of oil prices. Large manufacturers like Boeing disregard the claims that clean energy can meet heavy industry and grid power needs. However, despite the skepticism, the world is still hopeful that refinement of smart grids and management systems would mean innovative, efficient and clean power grid capable of catering to the needs of the manufacturing sector.
The food sector: Implementing renewable energy technologies would help in addressing some trade-offs between water, energy and food and bring substantial benefits across sectors. The advanced technology in renewable energy helps in providing energy services that are less resource intensive compared to traditional energy resources.
This age, which is aware of the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels, think that renewable energy sources is the answer. There, is fundamental attractiveness about harnessing such alternative forms of energy. The focus is both on the adequacy of long term and continuous energy supply and also environmental implications. Of all the available renewables, sun, wind, waves, rivers, tides and heat from radioactive decay and biomass, only falling water in rivers has been used to generate electricity. This is because of the challenges that are present in harnessing them. The challenge lies not in the availability of these resources but applying them to meet demand for energy, given their variable and diverse nature. This is why along with technological advancements, policies that favor renewables would also be required.
Author bio: Aditi Biswas is a research and communication expert at a global research firm that conducts business research and provides market intelligent services. She helps firms gain actionable insights based on technology and best practices, thorough detailed market study and analysis.