The renewable energy market is changing thanks to falling prices and increasing demand for cleaner energy sources. Here are five technologies that will impact the industry in the near future.
1- Wind and solar energy
It is wind turbines and solar panels that represent, for most people, the advancement of renewable energy. The two sources of energy are visible in many rural landscapes and have transformed the market.
“The biggest impact has been from wind and solar technologies, which have led to a very rapid drop in the costs of producing electricity , ” says Petteri Laaksonen , Director of Research at the School of Power Systems at Lappeenranta University of Technology. -Lahti of Finland (LUT).
Renewable energy is expected to account for 30 percent of the world’s power by 2024 , according to the International Energy Agency, with most of this being driven by solar and wind projects that continue to develop at an astonishing rate.
This is a growth in the use of solar panels, which made up 60 percent of installed renewable energy capacity in 2019. Even tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon have invested in solar power .
Experts agree that the advancement of electrification in the coming decades will supercharge the shift to renewables . The electrification of European industry, buildings and transport based on renewable energy will allow the continent to reduce its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent by 2050, according to some predictions.
This trend is already visible. For example, Wärtsilä and Pivot Power are installing the world’s first 100 MW of transmission-connected utility-scale energy storage, along with high-volume power connections that will provide essential capacity for a nationwide network of power stations. fast charging of electric vehicles .
The project is expected to play a significant role in accelerating the UK’s energy transition drive towards net-zero emissions by 2050. Furthermore, data from the Wärtsilä Energy Transition Laboratory shows that in the first few months of 2020, the The percentage of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Europe increased dramatically, with a corresponding decrease in electricity generated from traditional sources.
Laaksonen points out that there will also be new uses for electricity, including producing hydrogen from water through electrolysis, recycling carbon dioxide by capturing it from the air, while nitrogen for fertilizers will also be made by taking it from the air.
He predicts that, over time, the demand for electricity could increase up to 3-4 times in European countries, and the price will fall (thanks to the rise of renewable energy).
The switch to electricity is key to achieving the decarbonization of economies, but there are other, less obvious implications, such as improved energy security (independence from fossil fuel exporters) and better urban air quality.
One of the new technologies that are changing the game, Power-to-X is a generic term that covers different processes that convert electricity into heat, hydrogen or renewable synthetic fuels.
It offers a significant opportunity to accelerate the shift to renewable energy by increasing synthetic fuel production and rapidly reducing fossil fuel emissions in sectors ranging from the steel industry and food production to the chemical industry and fertilizers.
Technology can also play a critical role in solving long-term energy storage problems by regulating the ups and downs in the supply of renewable sources.
“Energy for extraction is necessary because it is not possible to reinvest in entire infrastructures and technologies – aviation, shipping, heavy-duty vehicles and even electric cars – in the next two decades, during which we have to transition,” he says. Laaksonen.
4- Distributed generation
A quiet revolution in the field of renewable energy is the increasing affordability and popularity of so-called distributed generation. This means local power generation whether in the retail or commercial sector: from solar panels on private homes to factories using combined heat and power systems.
Scaling up distributed generation has many benefits, from reducing reliance on centralized power sources to increasing grid reliability and the viability of small-scale renewable energy sources. When combined with smart grids, which are regulated by computers to fine-tune transmission, distributed generation is even more efficient.
There has been rapid growth in distributed generation in recent years, and this is expected to continue: according to one estimate, the distributed generation market will be worth €147.5 billion by 2026.
5- Energy storage
The potential of energy storage to accelerate the switch to renewable energy has been widely discussed in scientific circles and looks set to be key in the coming years.
“Storage of energy will be necessary in the system due to the variable production of the wind and the sun” , explains Laaksonen. “There are multiple energy storage technologies, and the skill is in combining them into a system.”
Examples include smart energy management technology such as Wärtsilä’s GEMS, which optimizes multiple technologies in a single portfolio.
Some of the solutions that are likely to scale up in the coming years include hydroelectric reservoirs, batteries, Power-to-X fuels, and seasonal thermal energy storage . These same technologies will also be useful for countries with large nuclear power industries .
Above all, energy storage makes it possible to maintain an efficient flow of energy despite the intermittent nature of wind or solar sources. Storage technologies will evolve within the energy system along with the increased use of renewable energy.