Future of Renewable Energy

Future of Renewable Energy

The rapid increase in industrialization, globalization and population growth requires a significant increase in global energy demands [1]. Whereas the increase in GHGs emissions and climate change altered the focus towards the increasing use of renewable sources of energy. The scientific community is focusing on renewable, clean, and affordable energy sources for meeting the energy demands [2]. Renewable energy sources currently account for 26% of global power, with the IEA predicting that this percentage will rise to 30% by 2024 [1].

            According to IEA report “the renewable energy production is going to accelerate in the coming few years, particularly solar and wind sources addition of new renewable power capacity this year are predicted to rise to 290 gigawatts (GW) in 2021. Furthermore, renewables are expected to be almost 95% of the increase in global power capacity through 2026, estimated that solar PV alone provides more than half. The government’s cleaner energy regulations and standards, as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are driving this transition. Additionally, the goals for clean energy were clearly announced during the COP26 Climate Change Conference 2021 [1].

Four major countries that combined account for the 80% of renewable energy capacity worldwide are China, India, Europe, and United States [1], [2]. China remains the global leader in the forecasted share of the renewable increase. The biggest contribution is predicted to be 1200 GW of solar and wind energy in 2026, which is earlier than the SDG objectives of 2030. India, as a significant country with a vast population, is on track to attain and promote cleaner energy solutions in accordance with the SDG requirements. It is doubling its new solar installations, compared to 2015-2020. Also investing the biomass gasification and combustion technologies [3].

            Despite the rise in the today’s commodity and transport prices, IEA report states that the growth of Solar PV, Wind energy and biofuel is forecast it surpasses the 2019 level, although the covid impact of huge on the world’s economy was devastating yet the growth is on the increasing trend for renewables. Solar PV is expected to increase by 17% in 2021to almost 160MW, setting a new record [1]. The wind onshore farms are 25% higher on average than during the 2015-2020 period. Demand for biofuels is also set to grow strongly by 2026, while Asia accounts for almost 30% of new biofuels production [4].

            A few key challenges hindering the growth of renewables are grid integration challenges, social acceptance issues, inconsistent policy approaches and insufficient remuneration. These challenges can be overcome by improvement in policy for these barriers by Government. Technological advancement is a concern for developing nations, moreover, the higher renewable financing cost is a key issue [1]. Whereas fulfilling the SDG 7 and SDG 12 is expected to push renewable energy towards the addressing of solutions to key challenges faced during the adaptation of renewable and clean energy [4].

            Solar energy is estimated to meet the global energy demands if harnessed efficiently and converted to power [3]. Solar energy is captured by two methods Solar PV panels and concentrated solar panels (CSP). Photovoltaic (PV) directly converts the sunlight into electricity using solar cells, while the commercialized fuel cell is reported to be close to 25% efficient. CSP converts the solar energy to thermal and then it is utilized for steam or power generation like a conventional system [2]. The major challenge present despite the government subsidy and promoting policies is the fabrication and installation cost of solar panels. Cleaning of the solar panels remains a critical issue for the larger power plants, due to the abundant water requirements [4].

            Wind energy is harnessed by the turbines that move based on the wind velocity and direction, this mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy [2]. Technically wind energy is caused by solar energy. The phenomenon of “wind” is occurred due to the difference in temperature of the atmosphere combined with the earth’s rotations. Multiple level wind turbines are available depending on its application, for organizations or individual homes. The major focused research areas are the material of construction should be light and strong. Able to withstand the climate effects for longer durations. The major drawback is that winds are seasonally based on the geographic locations of the wind farm [4]. This requires an additional energy storage system. Moreover, wind turbines also cause noise pollution, thus are installed usually in rural or remote areas. The benefit is clean energy sources, do not affect the environment and do not have a negative effect of human health due to smog, and acid rain [1].

            Dams are the biggest way of generating hydropower. Water flows cause mechanical energy production that is converted to electricity [4]. This energy has the benefit of adapting of huge power production projects. Although this energy source does not produce harmful environmental emissions as fossil fuel. It disrupts the waterways and affects the aquatic lifelike fish or other freshwater ecosystems. Dams’ construction requires a large place area compared to solar energy plants.  Within a few years, the storage and efficiency of the plant declined significantly [2].

            Biomass is utilized to produce electricity, also for the liquid fuel ethanol, biodiesel land syngas. The major sources of biodiesel are agricultural waste and municipal waste [3]. Various technologies can be used for biomass to energy or useful fuel, that includes gasification, fermentation, and anaerobic digestion. The oldest method is the direct combustion of the woods, adopted by, men for significant years in past. Biomass proper utilization is important as the organic waste dumped in the surroundings caused the methane emission that is GHG. Efficient municipal and organic waste also reduces the environmental concerns faced due to agricultural waste and biomass. The major limitation is that a specific type of biomass feedstock requires a specially designed gasifier for efficient utilization [4].

            Despite the drawbacks and limitations faced by Solar, wind and biomass energy, these sources are forecasted to increase within the few years, driven by climate change and net zero-emission goals [2]. For residential purposes, PV Solar energy seems to be the viable solution for meeting the energy demands [1]. For the transportation sector biomass-based, energy and liquid fuels seem good options [3]. For the onshore areas wind energy can be a suitable option. In the coming years due the major countries, China, India, European and the United States will contribute a lot to the production of renewable energy sources based on the suitable source due to the geographical location [1]. While the cost and efficiency need to be improvised for the complete adaptation of cleaner and renewable energy sources. Future lies with the increasing share of renewable energy, declining the reliance on fossil fuels and reducing the gas emissions [4].


[1]      “Renewable electricity growth is accelerating faster than ever worldwide, supporting the emergence of the new global energy economy – News – IEA.” https://www.iea.org/news/renewable-electricity-growth-is-accelerating-faster-than-ever-worldwide-supporting-the-emergence-of-the-new-global-energy-economy (accessed Apr. 15, 2022).

[2]      “7 Types of Renewable Energy: The Future of Energy.” https://justenergy.com/blog/7-types-renewable-energy-future-of-energy/ (accessed Apr. 15, 2022).

[3]      “Biomass explained – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).” https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/ (accessed Apr. 15, 2022).

[4]      “What the Future of Renewable Energy Looks Like | Earth.Org – Past | Present | Future.” https://earth.org/the-growth-of-renewable-energy-what-does-the-future-hold/ (accessed Apr. 15, 2022).