In 2016, the landscape for renewables looks encouraging and challenging. The recent enthusiastic buzz and public support surrounding renewable energy confronts doubt despite decades of roughly 30% annual growth in solar and wind production. Costs of renewables are dropping rapidly, as photovoltaic modules costs have fallen by approximately 10% per year over the past 30 years and the costs of wind turbines by roughly 5%. Yet, still only 23% of installed capacity is from renewable resources. Why not a higher percentage?
We hear lots about the falling costs of renewable energies and how, in many places, solar technologies in particular are cheaper than standard, grid-produced energy. R&D has already vastly driven up efficiency of renewable technologies and driven down costs. Technological innovation is accompanied by business model innovation to deploy renewable energies in unprecedented ways. Our political landscape is shifting quickly, potentially enabling greater uptake and integration. This is highlighted also in the developing world, where the majority of growth in energy use is predicted to arise from in the coming decades.
What does the future of the renewables landscape look like?
Where are we headed in future vis-a-vis sustainable engineering for renewables?
What will this transition take?