Green practices and drives towards using eco-friendly products have signalled trouble for some industries — but not all. For example, the renewable sector has been generally enhanced by green initiatives. While traditional energy markets are faltering and facing a challenging road ahead, the renewables sector is breaking records.
The outcome has been positive for the renewables sector, as its resources don’t run out, instead, they naturally ‘renew’. Collected under the umbrella term of renewables is solar, wind and wave power, alongside biomass and biofuels.
The renewable sector’s current standing in the UK and how it may look in the future is fascinating. Here to explore the industry more is HTL Group — a specialist supplier of hydraulic cutters.
How the renewables market has performed
Recently, the renewables industry has exceeded almost all expectations. In 2016, 138 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity was created, showing an 8% increase on 2015, when 128 GW was added. This creates a 55% share of the market for the renewables sector — with second place going to coal (54 GW of power-generating capacity), followed by gas (37 GW) and nuclear (10 GW).
The renewable sector’ input of global power-generating capacity accounted for 17% of the total global power capacity. This rose from 15% in 2015.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states that the increase of the renewables sector stopped the release of around 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2016. Based on the 39.9 billion tonnes of CO2 that was released in 2016, the figure would have been 4% higher without the availability of renewable energy sources.
Are we investing in the sector?
Surprisingly, investment in the renewables industry dropped in 2016. In this year, $242 billion was invested in the sector, showing a 23% fall in comparison to 2015’s figures. This decrease can be attributed to the falling cost of technology in each sector.
Of course, the reduction may be because of variations in the markets of different nations. In 2016, Europe was the only region to see an increase in investment in the renewables sector, rising 3% on 2015’s figures to reach $60 billion. This performance is largely driven by the region’s offshore wind projects, which accounted for $26 billion of the total, increasing by over 50% on 2015’s figures.
However, even in Europe, there were dissimilarities regrading investment by country. Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium all invested heavily in the sector, however, UK investment fell by 1% on the previous year and German investment decreased by 14%.
In China, investment dropped by nearly 33% to $37 billion in 2016 (investment was $78 billion in 2015). Investment from developing nations also dropped in 2016 to a total of $117 billion, down from $167 billion in 2015. In 2016, renewable sector investment had almost balanced between developed and developing countries ($125 billion vs $117 billion).
The renewable sector of the future
Thankfully, the renewables industry is getting a boost from several avenues. From the falling cost of technology to societal shifts like the 2040 ban to prevent the sale of new petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars, the future certainly looks positive for the sector — even if investment has declined recently.
It’s no secret that fossil fuels remain a dominant force in the energy industry. However, as attitudes keep shifting and equipment prices continue to drop, we can expect the growth of renewables to carry on. In the future, it’s inevitable that the sector will surpass more traditional markets on a global scale, transforming how we generate and consume energy.