Despite some short-term uncertainty due to legislative policy, the long-term renewable energy market looks promising. Two technology advancements are to thank: energy storage and digitalization. Read on to learn about how these developments may lead to more widespread use of renewable energy.
According to Deloitte’s “2018 Outlook on Renewable Energy,” solar and wind energy have been viewed as viable replacements for traditional fuel sources when paired with adequate storage solutions. One of the challenges has always been the cost of storage for renewable energy. Because the cost of lithium-ion batteries has decreased more than 70 percent since 2012, energy storage deployment in many countries has increased. The prediction is that by 2020, it may become cost-competitive with grid electricity. This is a step in the right direction for offering renewable energy to the masses.
Digitalization is enabling renewable energy integration. Analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping plant owners and operators optimize their renewable energy output. For example, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) developed AI software to improve wind forecasting and is working on the same for solar forecasting.
“Blockchain technology” is helping to get renewable energy on the grid in Europe already. The new technology, according to CB Insights’ “What is Blockchain Technology?” offers a way for untrusted parties to reach consensus on a common digital history. This is so digital assets and transactions cannot be easily faked or duplicated despite not having a trusted intermediary. (Blockchain is what enables Bitcoin transactions to be possible.) The blockchain pilot is enabling excess output from wind plants in northern Germany to be discharged as needed into a networked pool of home battery storage systems.
The exciting part about these two tech revelations as it relates to renewable energy is that wind and solar may soon be looked at as potential replacements for traditional fuel sources instead of just an unreliable resource that may provide a temporary fix. Energy storage and digitalization may just become revolutionary factors for the energy market and development in the near future.