Renewable energy is on a growth trajectory that is expected to continue through the year and in the years to come. According to Deloitte’s “2018 Outlook on Renewable Energy,” there are three notable trends that are contributing to this increased demand: decarbonization, emerging markets and resilience.
It is becoming increasingly popular for electric utilities to support decarbonization. The utility companies are motivated by driving electricity demand while also responding to customer concerns about the environment. In addition to electrifying areas with wind and solar that are not currently electrified, the focus is on carbon reduction in power and transportation (e.g., electric cars, trucks, buses, ports), heating and cooling, the building sector and industrial processes. Some utilities have already started decarbonization to comply with the Clean Power Plan, and others are jumping on board.
Emerging markets are expected to outpace developed countries in installing wind and solar energy solutions very soon. Electricity demand in emerging markets is growing with rising populations and increased household consumption, but it is not plausible for utility companies or governments to extend the electric grid to remote rural areas. Off-grid energy systems based on wind, solar, small hydro or biomass are cost-effective solutions. Wind and solar costs have plummeted in countries such as Chile, India and the United Arab Emirates, which has contributed to the popularity of renewables.
Potential physical risk and cyber-attacks on the electric grid have made renewable energy sources more attractive. Last year, Hurricane Maria robbed Puerto Rico of 3.4 billion customer-hours of electricity service. Moreover, Florida’s grid was affected by Irma, as was Texas’s by Harvey. Solar panels, battery storage, microgrids and other distributed energy sources are decentralized and can add a layer of protection from physical damage to the grid. While renewables are not resistant to damage, they can be islanded and run off-grid as necessary. They are also expected to return to operation more quickly.
These trends show a promising future for renewables and career opportunities within the industry. It is a space that continues to evolve and should be closely watched when considering long-term energy solutions.