Powering the planet, lowering the cost of energy, and drastically reducing carbon emissions are the major concerns for mankind in the 21st century. To secure the future for ourselves and generations to follow, it is crucial to act now to reduce the consumption of energy and reduce greenhouse gases. Such issues have raised the preference for renewable energy sources all over the world. But there are several challenges that companies dealing with renewable energy sources face. These challenges hinder the growth of the green economy and obstruct governments from achieving their sustainability goals. In this article, we have talked about those challenges to help power and clean energy companies transform the way they operate, globally.
Ever wondered what exactly is renewable energy and what are the top renewable energy sources available to us today? Renewable energy, as the name suggests, is a form of green energy that’s not detrimental to the environment. They are a part and parcel of our planet’s physical structure and can be found in the sunlight, air, oceans, and underground. Also known as “sustainable energy”, they are naturally replenished and serve as the best alternative to fossil fuels like coal and oil. However, a fact to keep in mind here is that energy sources that are renewable are not always environmentally safe. For instance, harnessing hydro energy by building dams affects the ecosystem for fishes and the wildlife. Another example of this is the use of wind to generate energy by building windmills, which also has a detrimental effect on the local ecosystem and wind streams.
Despite the strides we’ve made in discovering new renewable energy sources and harnessing the energy generated from such sources, many countries are still not using renewable energy. Wonder why? Renewable energy is still pretty expensive compared to conventional energy. And since favorable renewable energy sources are mostly present in remote locations, a lot of money must be invested in building an appropriate infrastructure. Despite such challenges, most governments are investing in discovering new renewable energy sources and are offering attractive tax benefits to encourage investments. That being said, now let’s take a look at some of the best renewable energy sources that can be leveraged to help our world to go green:
Top Renewable Energy Sources
Sunlight is perhaps one of the most famous renewable energy sources available today and its energy can be harnessed by using technologies that can leverage solar energy to illuminate houses or street lamps, warm or cool water, or power cooling systems for businesses. Solar energy, which can be harnessed with the help of photovoltaic systems, can benefit corporates and government bodies alike.
This form of energy is derived from deep underground and the heat generated can be used to produce electricity. Such renewable energy sources can be implemented on a smaller scale or a large scale, depending on its end-goal. On a small scale, geothermal energy can be used to keep nearby buildings warm or cool. On a large scale, it can be used as a commercial utility energy solution.
In 2013, sustainable energy accounted for almost 22% of the global electricity generation and is expected to witness a 26% increase by 2020.
Due to the world economy’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels during the past decades, the carbon dioxide emissions accompanying economic development have intensified the global greenhouse effect; and global warming, climate change, and ecological destruction have severely threatened human survival. As a result, the issue of sustainable development is growing in importance, and the governments of many countries have made sustainable development one of their administrative focal points.
As the world moves towards a more sustainable energy future, the development of technologies that facilitate this for heating, transport, and power systems is crucial. Sustainable energy is one of the fastest growing and complex sector, as energy is an area of geopolitical concern as well as financial activity. There are many forms of sustainable energy that can be incorporated by countries to stop the use of fossil fuels. Moreover, sustainable energy is replenishable and helps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions without causing any damage to the environment. Sustainable energy sources include solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biomass energy.
Although the sustainable energy sector seems to have a promising future, there may be certain factors that affect its growth:
- The high capital costs: The most obvious barrier to sustainable energy is the upfront expense of building and installing such power harnessing facilities. Sustainable energy sources are free and require minimum maintenance. A bulk of the expense comes from developing the technology to harness and transmit such energy.
- Siting and transmission: The sustainable energy segment consists of a decentralized model with smaller generating stations spread across a larger area. To adequately take advantage of these resources new transmission infrastructures are needed, and both siting and transmission can be significant barriers for suppliers in this sector.
- Market Entry: New energy providers find it difficult to compete with major market players like coal and gas, and those who have proven themselves with low cost solar and wind technologies.
To overcome the challenges mentioned above, sustainable energy suppliers are increasingly opting for a detailed market intelligence assessment. Leveraging the use of market intelligence solutions help firms operating in the sustainable energy market gain a holistic view of the current market scenario and its key stakeholders. At its core, market intelligence solutions make use of varied information sources that help in creating a broader picture of the company’ existing market, competition, and growth potential for new products and services.
The Business Challenge:
- The client: A sustainable energy supplier
The client, a prominent sustainable energy supplier, wanted to gain detailed insights into the current market scenario to achieve a stronger foothold in the sustainable energy market space. The client also wanted to carry out a thorough analysis to improve their business models and projections. Additionally, the client was looking at utilizing statistical tools and more complex technologies to handle and manipulate the data.
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Infiniti’s team of experts, specializing in market intelligence, carried out extensive interviews and discussions with prominent stakeholders within the sustainable energy market space. This helped them in understanding the current market scenario, the competitors in this market space, and the potential threats. Moreover, our experts were also successful in gathering information from primary sources including industry experts, researchers, consultants, and distributors. They also explored secondary sources like newsletters, business journals, market research data, and industry associations to improve their awareness in the sustainable energy space.
The Solution Benefits and the Business Impact:
The market intelligence solution offered by the experts at Infiniti assisted the client in anticipating their competitor’s plan and helped them identify the gaps in the market. The solution helped the client by offering a 360-degree view of the market, suppliers, opportunities, and also highlighted areas of concerns. The client also gained a competitive advantage as these solutions enabled them to control costs, act faster than the competition, and react more quickly to customers’ needs. Moreover, it also helped them develop strategies to improve their market presence.
Considering today’s market developments, sustainable technologies are cheaper than nuclear and coal and are on par with combined-cycle natural gas. This, along with the lowered costs of digital equipment such as sensors, CPUs, and data storage technologies will help in the growth of the sustainable energy industry.
A must-read case study for strategy specialists and decision makers looking to develop an understanding of the sustainable energy sector
LONDON: Infiniti Research, a global market intelligence solutions provider, has announced the completion of their latest market assessment solution for a leading renewable energy provider. The renewable energy industry is witnessing a transformation towards a service-driven economy owing to the recent technological improvements and environmental concerns. Top players in the renewable energy industry are increasing their focus on delivering energy with higher efficiency and productivity.
“Increasing customer expectations and competition in the market are forcing companies operating in the renewable energy sector to devise market assessment solutions.With the help of market assessment solutions, the renewable energy companies can categorize potential market segments in terms of the demographics, geography, lifestyle, and distribution,“says an expert at Infiniti Research.
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The solution offered helped the energy industry client to position their offerings based on the customer preferences and mitigate market entry bottlenecks. The client was also able to gain actionable insights into the current market scenario and develop tailored offerings.
Additional Benefits of The Market Assessment Solution
- Gain market landscape insights and identify the regional opportunities and challenges
- Understand the purchasing patterns of the customers and accordingly allocate marketing resources to meet the business requirements.
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The ‘Go Green’ anthem is echoing around the world. This trend is putting pressure on all the global industries to streamline their activities to a more environment-friendly approach. The energy industry was among the first sectors to come forward and incorporate the idea of resorting to environmentally friendly practices. Additionally, the depleting rate of fossil fuels and the increasing regulatory measures were a good enough reason for them to undertake clean energy measures. In 2018, the continuing plunge in costs for solar and wind energy means that market opportunities will keep opening up for clean power, storage, and electric vehicles. Curious to know what twists and turns the energy industry is going to witness in 2018? We unravel to you the top clean energy predictions for the upcoming year:
Dip in battery pack prices
Lithium-ion battery pack prices are expected to showcase a steady decline in 2018. Despite an increase in the price of cobalt and lithium leading to increasing average cell prices, it is likely that the average cost per pack will decline by 10-15%. This trend will be driven by economies of scale, larger average pack sizes and energy density improvements of 5-7% per year.
Rise in the sale of electric vehicles
The transportation industry’s inclination towards clean energy has boosted the growth of electric vehicles. The sale of electric vehicles is expected to hit the all-time high margins this year. As compared to 2017, it is predicted that there would be a 40% rise in the electric vehicles segment in 2018. In the European market, the mounting urban air quality concerns and diesel’s fall from grace will help spike the growth of the electric vehicles market.
Energy transition in Asia’s two largest power systems – India and China
In the energy industry, India and China face opportunities and challenges that are entirely different from one another. The Indian energy sector saw a mixed year in 2017, though 12GW of renewable energy were built, there was a dip by 20% in new investments in clean energy resulting from a number of canceled auctions and power contract renegotiations. However, 2018 is expected to be the last year in which fossil fuels will outpace renewables in India. The Indian regulatory bodies are undertaking rigorous clean energy measures to stabilize global greenhouse emissions. In the case of China, the solar fever will continue to rage in 2018. In the upcoming year, China is expected to build more “distribution-grid-connected” solar projects than the larger “transmission-grid-connected” projects.
Growth in global wind installations
Wind energy is one of the major sources for generating clean energy around the world. Both onshore and offshore wind installations are expected to show a growing trend in 2018 and are expected to hit an all-time high record by 2019. China and Latin America are likely to be the two regions seeing growth between 2017 and 2018. The U.K., Germany, Netherlands, and China will continue the main markets for offshore wind projects.
Solar installations to shoot up
Solar energy still dominates as the most rapidly developing and widely accepted technique for generating clean energy. According to various industry experts, global solar installations will be at least 107GW in 2018. China will continue to be the leader in solar energy with 47-65GW of solar installations.
The world’s energy needs are constantly on the rise, and power companies are looking at all sorts of possibilities and modes to fulfill the increasing demand. It’s a tough task to produce enough electricity to power the needs of all the people across the world. A traditional source such as fossil fuel has been used on a wide scale as the most significant source of energy. However, due to environmental concerns and increasing emissions, governments across the world are slowly reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and are switching over to a cleaner source of energy. As a result, renewable energy sources have been grabbing the headlines more often. The APAC region has been regarded as the prime example for the adoption of renewable energy sources for their power requirements. Numerous reports estimate the energy demand in the APAC region to nearly double by 2030. The region is on the right path to meet such demands even after reducing their dependence on traditional sources. The Chinese government is expected to move away from energy production from coal, which kills thousands of people each year. So, what does the renewable energy future look like in the Asia-pacific region?
China is a world leader in wind energy generation and has ambitious plans to triple its solar power capacity by 2020. The country is aiming to raise its solar energy generation to 150GW and wind energy generation to around 250GW by 2020. Although the renewable energy sources accounted for approximately 14% of Chinese power, they expect to increase this figure to 22% by 2020. In 2017, China announced to scrap their plans to build 85 coal-fired power plants and instead pour about $350 billion into renewable energy. Additionally, the authorities reported that the country had exceeded official targets for carbon intensity, energy efficiency, and the share of clean energy source.
Similar to China, in 2015, India also announced their ambitious goal of increasing the renewable energy power capacity to 175GW by 2022. This plan includes increasing the solar capacity to 100GW, wind energy to 60GW, bioenergy to 10GW, and hydropower to 5GW. If they achieve this target, then they will witness a five-fold increase in power capacity in a span of seven years. Currently, India is the fourth largest installer of wind power behind China, the US, and Germany. India has been largely helped by the falling solar installation prices, with the rate falling as low as 4 cents a kilowatt hour to add 250MW of solar capacity in Rajasthan.
The shift towards a renewable energy future seems to be picking up steams in Japan. After the Tohoku earthquake, 2011 Tsunami, and triple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Japanese government introduced a feed-in tariff system to promote renewable energy. The scheme made it mandatory for utilities to purchase wind, solar, mini-hydro, and geothermal energy at a fixed rate for the specified number of years. A report from IEEFA expects Japan’s solar energy to account for 12% of electricity mix by the year 2030. The report also estimates the renewable capacity to reach 159GW by the year 2030.
The success of solar farms in Thailand coupled with positive development in other clean energy resource puts Thailand right on track to achieve its goal to reach the share of renewable energy by more than 37% by 2036. Additionally, the development of ultra-fast charging battery in Singapore is showing a promising renewable energy future as it can charge batteries up to 70% in just two minutes.
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The origins of nuclear energy can be traced back to 1932 when physicist Ernest Rutherford discovered that immense amount of energy was released when lithium ions were split by protons from a proton accelerator. After subsequent discoveries from Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein, nuclear energy was able to power nuclear reactor for energy generation. Today, uranium, a common element in the Earth’s crust, is the element of choice for conducting nuclear fission for generating electricity. Going by today’s consumption rate of the element, numerous studies estimate the reserves to last for another 200 years’ worth of supply. Nuclear energy is distinct from any other source of energy and has its own sets of pros and cons.
Advantages of nuclear energy
Continuous electricity generation
Nuclear power unlike other sources of energy is independent of natural conditions. For instance, solar and wind energy is highly dependent on hours of sunlight or wind which doesn’t usually coincide with fluctuating energy demands. A nuclear power plant is generating electricity about 90% of the annual time which is relatively high compared to other forms of renewable energy. In comparison, natural gas generates an average electricity of 50% of the annual time, while coal and wind produce energy at almost 51% and 32% respectively.
A significant advantage of using nuclear power over fossil fuel is the relatively low amount of fuel it is required to produce an equivalent amount of energy. The cost of nuclear fuel, i.e., uranium, accounts for only 20% of the cost of electricity generated. Such high levels of efficiency also make it easier in transportation, handling, and extraction of nuclear fuel and subsequently reduces the overall costs in the supply chain.
Clean source of energy
The only byproduct generated out of a nuclear power plant is used uranium which is safely stored in pools or concrete containers. Unlike other fossil fuel source, it does not emit CO2 causing air pollution and acid rain. Of all the clean energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro, nuclear power is the most significant source of clean-energy generation in the US contributing to 64% of the total output.
Disadvantages of nuclear energy
The radioactive waste generated as a byproduct of nuclear power is hazardous and has to be carefully stored and monitored for several thousand years. Although high-security standard is maintained to store this waste effectively, accidents can still happen with deadly consequences for both humans and nature. A nuclear or radiation accident such as Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Chernobyl disaster, and Three Mile Island accident have posed serious questions to the safety of nuclear energy.
High capital investment
Although the fuel source of nuclear power, uranium, is relatively low, the cost of electricity is significantly driven by the high rate of initial investment for constructing a nuclear plant. So nuclear plant will have to run for a number of years in order to recoup the initial investment. Additionally, nuclear plants also have a limited life; after expiry, they have to be dismantled. The construction time for a nuclear power plant usually takes 4-5 years with a payback period of over 30 years which is relatively high considering other source of energy.
Fossil fuels can be mined in many parts of the world, which is not particularly accurate for uranium, which is a very scarce resource. Only a handful of countries have uranium ores, and getting the approval from several international authorities is a tiresome process before building a nuclear power plant. As a result, not many countries can depend on nuclear energy to fulfill the energy demand.
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Today, electricity is a vital part of our everyday lives, right from powering big houses and corporations to small mobile phones, which are an integral part of our lives. Every utility company plays a significant role in supplying the power from the source to individual houses using the grid system. The costs incurred while building such an infrastructure is insanely high. As a result of such high costs, many developing nations are facing the issue of power shortage as they cannot adequately invest in the infrastructure. However, in the developed parts of the world, utility companies have set up massive infrastructure that distributes power to millions of households. It comes as no surprise that the utility company from these nations are some of the biggest in the world. Here is a list of top utility companies in the world.
Duke Energy Corporation, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the largest electric power holding company, not only in the US but also in the world. Its utility business unit provides electricity access to 7.4 million retail electric customers in Southeast and Midwest regions with a total capacity of a massive 57,700 MW. The utility company derives electricity from sources such as coal, natural gas, and oil. Their service territory covers 270,000 km of land with 402,700 km of distribution lines. The company reported revenues of $22.74 billion for the year 2016.
Engie, previously known as GDF Suez, is a French multinational utility company which operates in the field of electricity generation and distribution, nuclear energy, natural gas, and renewable energy. In 2008, the company broke the state monopoly and de-emphasized its historical role as a nationalized gas monopoly. In 2016, the company generated revenues of €66.66 billion by employing over 154,950 employees. In a bid to promote low-carbon distributed energy the company announced its decision to stop new investments in coal plants in the year 2015.
National Grid is a British multinational electricity and gas utility company that owns and maintains high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales. The company is the only owner and operator of gas transmission infrastructure in England and Wales. The company also operates 14,000 km of electricity transmission lines in the US, delivering power to the areas of Northeast states of Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, serving over 3 million customers.
NextEra Energy Inc. is an investment company which operates in the US and Canada. The company generates electricity and is also involved in transmission and distribution with a capacity of about 45,900 MW. The company operates through various subsidiaries including Florida Power & Light (FPL), NextEra Energy Resources (NEER), and FPL FiberNet. With an aim to promote the use of renewable energy, the utility company attempted to purchase Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion in the year 2014.
Électricité de France SA (EDF) is wholly owned by the French state and is involved in power generation, transmission, distribution, and energy supply and trading. The company handles 5 to 7 million customer accounts in the UK by the sale of gas and electricity to homes and businesses. The utility company is actively engaged in energy generation from renewable sources, which are reflected by its move to start the 62 MW offshore Teesside Wind Farm operations. The utility company consolidated its business in France and Europe to increase its presence in key emerging countries including Brazil, China, and Russia. The utility company also operations three of the top ten nuclear power plants in the world.
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Energy industry overview
The world population is on the rise, so is the demand for energy. The good news is that the recent energy industry trends are more focused towards sustainable energy generation methods, especially due to the ever-increasing environmental concerns such as global warming. But on the flip side, the energy industry is facing mounting challenges when it comes to providing cheap and reliable energy owing to the high costs involved and lack of sufficient resources to meet the growing demand. Over the past year, global conditions have also continued to challenge the energy sector. However, with breakthrough developments in the energy sector in the recent times and more emphasis from the government for clean energy measures, 2018 will undoubtedly be an eventful year for the energy sector. Here are our top picks of the energy industry trends that you can expect in 2018:
Energy Industry Trends 2018
Hydroelectric power is one of the oldest forms of electricity generation dating back to hundreds of years where it was used to power domestic power lifts, sawmills, and to perform mechanical tasks like grinding grains. However, the use of hydroelectric power has evolved over time and it is currently the biggest source of renewable electricity. It also contributes to about one-fifth of the entire world’s electricity. The consumption and demand for hydroelectric power are continuously on the rise as it’s a clean fuel source and also one of the cheapest forms of energy today. Apart from generating electricity, hydropower can be used for agricultural activities, industrial uses in hushing, and powering water clocks. Here is how hydroelectric power benefits the society, nation, and the world at large:
#1 – Economic source of energy
One of the most pivotal hydroelectric power benefits is the relatively low cost of extracting electricity. For many investors, the upfront cost of constructing and installing hydropower plant can be very high. The prices include not only the plant cost but also the cost of building a dam. But once the power plant is in place, the cost of operation and maintenance is meager. As a result, the marginal cost of per kilowatt of electricity will reduce significantly. Also, since water is used in electricity generation, it is not required to be purified like fossil fuel. The source of hydroelectric power will remain perpetually and have an insanely long lifespan.
#2 – Renewable and clean resource
Since water is the primary source of hydroelectricity, the resource can be used until the end of time. A notable benefit of hydroelectric power is its ability not to consume water, as water powering the turbine ends up in the water stream again. They only derive the energy from moving water and convert it to electricity.
#3 – Eco-friendly
A recent report from the World Energy Council reported that hydroelectric power accounted for about 1,064 GW of installed capacity in the year 2016. To put that in context, each KWh takes about 0.36 kilograms of coal to generate. Thereby, hydroelectric power is an eco-friendly option compared to coal and fossil fuel, which accounts for a major chunk of the total emissions. Also, using hydroelectric power mitigates the emissions of greenhouse gases that is equivalent to the combustion of 4.4 million barrels of petroleum each day. Additionally, hydropower production doesn’t have any toxic byproducts that would harm the environment.
#4 – Flexibility
An interesting hydroelectric power benefit is its ability to scale the supply of electricity as per the need. When the demand for electricity is low, excess energy can be used to pump water to an upper reservoir. Conversely, when the demand for electricity surges, the stored water is released to power the turbines. The drawback of other form of energy such as wind or solar is that they can only be used when there is sufficient wind flow or sunlight; whereas, water is constantly available. Additionally, at the time of blackout or peak demand, hydroelectricity can be flawlessly fed into the main electric grid system compared to other energy sources.
#5 – Picks up water shortage slack
Hydropower has various other uses apart from electricity generation. The collected water can be easily used for irrigation, for drinking water purpose, or rainwater harvesting. Storing water in such a way also assists in the reduction of vulnerability during droughts and floods. Additionally, impoundment hydropower can create a reservoir for recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating.
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