Major and minor events happening in and around the global energy sector are an indication that clean energy is unstoppable. Once a proposal only popular among individuals looking for solutions to climate change challenges, clean energy has now become the main talk in the energy industry. It is now viewed as the future of energy generation.
Evidence for the inevitability of clean energy
1. Increase in investments in renewable energy
Following the money is perhaps the best way to know whether or not a development is headed for success. If the amounts invested in renewable energy are anything to go by, the world is surely transitioning to clean energy.
Research reports by the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) show that investments in renewable energy will account for about 75% of total investment in new power generation technology by 2040. In the Asia Pacific Region, renewables will take 60% of the total amount of money invested in energy by the same year. Coal and gas will account for only 10%. These numbers clearly show that clean energy will cause significant transformation in the energy sector.
2. Major shift in public perception of clean energy
The general public is becoming increasingly aware and appreciative of clean energy. In a recent survey conducted in the U.S., 70% of the respondents said that America should generate 100% of its electricity from renewables. Additionally, more than half of the respondents thought that renewable energy is a good idea even if it means paying higher energy bills.
Statistics support the change in public perception. There has been unprecedented growth in renewable energy purchases, development, and commitments since 2017.
3. Declining cost of clean energy production
Lazard Frères & Co. LLC, a financial advisory firm, reports that solar and wind energy generation costs have gone down by 88% and 69% respectively. In some states in the U.S. today, clean energy is cheaper to produce than fossil fuels even without subsidies. The cost factor is a major driver of clean energy penetration in the country.
4. The age of electric cars is here
We may be looking at the near end of the age of the internal combustion engine. According to CNN Business, governments in China, France, Britain, Norway, and India are considering banning gas and diesel cars. Other countries, including Ireland, Korea, Japan, and Spain are developing official targets for electric vehicles sales.
Automotive manufacturers have showed commitment to the transition to electric cars. In 2018, Ford Motor Co. announced that it would increase its investment in electric cars to $11 billion by 2022. General Motors plans to supply the market with 20 new fuel-cell electric and battery models by 2023. Commitment to electric cars investment by major global automakers stood at $90 billion in 2018, a Reuters analysis shows.
5. Big corporates are increasingly buying renewable energy
Renewable energy purchases by corporate giants are rising. From tech players such as Facebook and Google to manufacturers such as Cummins, these big companies are buying clean energy because it is good for their business. More than 10GW of renewable energy projects are supported by big corporates, and more than 10GW is on its way to the market to be consumed by corporate giants.
A growing number of U.S. companies have publicly committed to use 100% of electricity from renewables.
6. More cities making commitments to renewable energy
According to data from CDP, a not-for-profit organization that tracks cities’ use of renewable energy, 100 cities all over the world are sourcing at least 70% of their electricity from renewables. 184 of the 620+ global cities that report to CDP now have solar energy as part of their electricity generation mix and 189 report that they use wind energy.
More cities are expected to target a clean energy future. The number of U.S. cities that have committed to 100% renewable energy increased from 50 in 2017 to 99 in 2018.
The momentum for clean energy is indicative of a major shift in the global energy system. Although fossil fuels are still dominant in energy generation in major economies, renewables are closing up the dominance gap. Projections indicate that the clean energy revolution will pick up more steam in 2019 going forward. By 2040, clean energy is expected to dominate the energy system even in the economies where coal and fossil fuels currently dominate.