Smarter renewables open up new markets

Recent advances in wind turbine blade design and concentrated solar are part of the rapid reduction in cost per kWh of grid energy, and it is only getting better for the foreseeable future.

With solar energy storage technology and more efficient wind turbines being developed and deployed, renewable energy is seen to overtake dirty coal and oil in terms of market adoption. Image: Pexels It’s bad news for Old King Coal, Big Oil and their mates, but smarter renewables are helping to break new ground. The offshore wind industry and concentrated solar power have so far been tried only on a large scale, and in a few pioneer countries. But that is changing fast. Both ways of generating electricity, from wind and sun, were once thought technically feasible but too expensive to compete with fossil fuels. Advances in technology, though, and economies of scale have meant that costs are falling quickly. One key factor in their new success has been that surplus renewable energy can now be stored, either by batteries or heat reservoirs, and can then be used at periods of peak demand. Offshore wind power, pioneered in Denmark in 1991, has now become a major provider of energy in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. Outside Europe China is also a major investor. Altogether 17 countries now have offshore wind, but more than 100 have coastlines where the technology […]

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