The topic of renewable energy is a recurring issue for companies and governments,and actively contributes to optimizing the energy matrix. Check out the expectations and principal trends for the next few years.
Currently one of the most significant trends in achieving social, environmental, and financial energy goals worldwide is the adoption of renewable energy sources. By 2040, energy use will increase 28% globally, and this figure only confirms the need for practices that minimize consumption globally.
In companies there is a lot of discussion about how energy can be consumed from renewable sources while at the same time maintaining quality standards and reducing operational costs. Given this situation a number of agreements are being discussed by governments around the world to achieve these objectives, such as Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement, and Brazil's RenovaBio program, among others.
Given incentives and agreements like these, the changes in the energy field are visible. A study conducted by Carbon Tracker confirms that by 2050 renewable energy will be responsible for 50% of energy generation worldwide.
Today renewable energy originating from clean sources is not just used as a means to maintain a good company image – renewable energy forms part of a business and government strategy that aims to reduce polluting gases, reduce consumption and costs, and improve market reputation.
Given this reality, we draw up a list of the principal trends in renewable energy:
1 – Falling costs for deploying solar and wind energy
Two of the renewable sources most used are solar and wind. By 2040 they will together represent 34% of energy generation worldwide, in addition to being completely free from direct emissions of polluting gases and having little social and environmental impact (in the case of wind power there is the risk of visual and noise pollution due to the constant rotation of the blades, in addition to the risk to birds; and solar power depends on energy collection and storage technologies whose production has significant environmental impact). In addition, renewable energy sources have had the greatest drop in installation prices in recent years due to the increase in demand and tax incentives for their use.
Therefore one of the greatest highlights in renewable energy is the adoption of these sources, which can initially have higher installation costs, exceeding the cost of purchasing energy from traditional sources, but bring an ever increasing return on the initial investment.
2 – Decline in the use of coal
The drop in purchasing energy generated from coal has been simmering over the past few years, and the trend for the next few decades is that it will drop even more, even though it is one of the cheapest sources of energy for companies. This drop will take place because of the ever lower cost of renewable energy, targets for reducing polluting gases, and increasing social and environmental awareness of companies.
Globally the demand for coal will fall by 56% by 2050, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). This data only reinforces the fact that the coal industry is creating space for other energy sources, despite showing slight growth in 2018 of about 1% according to the annual report of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
3 – Batteries for energy storage
With global investment around $239 billion by 2040 according to BNEF, lithium-ion batteries for storing energy are currently one of the trends that will show the most growth in the next few years. Although little discussed, they are competing with natural gas and can be used at times when energy prices are high. It is also noted that their use is needed today, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, to pave the way for cleaner energy generation in the future.
4 – Use of natural gas as support for renewable sources
Although the share of electricity generation by natural gas will fall 15% by 2050, its role in the energy generation matrix will grow due to increasing the use of gas-fired power plants providing support for renewable energy. The increase will amount to 15% by the middle of this century.
Therefore it is important to cite natural gas as a key trend. Despite the drop of its use for generating electricity, natural gas will be essential for the development of renewable sources, which shows a positive path for the maintenance of its market.
5 – Growth of distributed generation
The deployment of energy generation through micro- and minigeneration is growing rapidly worldwide. In connection with renewable energy, energy storage has attractive regulations for its installation (sale via the Brazilian Free Energy Market if not all of the energy generated is consumed, or the reduction of account values if consumption is less that what is generated), only in 2018, in Brazil the market generated 340 MW, and in 2019 is expected to exceed one gigawatt (GW) in installed capacity.
With the changes in regulations planned for the sector in Brazil for 2020 the distributed generation market will grow even more for companies. Although the cost is still high, the return is ever more beneficial, because in addition to being able to generate their own energy, companies reduce simple costs such as the purchasing of energy through third parties.
Consideration of renewable energy and energy efficiency is important for achieving the objective of improving the energy matrix without increasing costs already present. Both initiatives contribute directly to increasing the complexity of management, bringing significant day-to-day challenges to the energy management area, such as the need for the ability to manage the volume of information supplied and to work in an integrated routine to make it possible to achieve planning targets. Therefore it is necessary for the energy and utilities management of companies to be increasingly accurate and assertive.