The Renewable Revolution: Making Sustainable Power Ubiquitous

The world is in the midst of a renewable energy revolution. In recent years, there has been rapid growth in sustainable power sources like solar, wind and geothermal. As costs fall and technology improves, renewables are becoming increasingly ubiquitous around the globe.

Declining Costs Enable Widespread Adoption

Plummeting Solar Prices

Over the last decade, the cost of solar panels has plunged dramatically. Between 2010 and 2020, utility-scale solar system costs fell over 80%, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This sharp decline has made solar power competitive with fossil fuels like coal and gas across more and more areas. Many experts believe costs will continue to fall in the coming years as technology develops, enabling further adoption.

Onshore Wind Also Dropping Rapidly

Onshore wind power has also seen sizable cost reductions recently. Since 2010, costs have fallen around 40% for new projects, per IRENA data. Additions of new wind capacity are surging globally as a result. Total worldwide installed wind power doubled between 2014 and 2019. Further innovations and economies of scale should allow additional cost efficiencies moving forward.

Batteries Are Improving and Getting Cheaper

Declining solar and wind costs alone will enable increased penetration and displacement of fossil fuel electricity generation. However, improved energy storage technology is also playing a critical role in the renewable shift. As battery storage options become cheaper, larger-scale and longer-duration, the intermittent nature of solar PV and wind resources becomes less of an issue.

Forecasts predict energy storage costs will fall around 50-60% by 2030. Growth in battery production for electric vehicles also helps drive down expenses. Affordable storage unlocks greater potential capacity for weather-dependent renewables.

Supportive Public Policy Environment

Government incentives and emission reduction targets worldwide are also providing an accommodative landscape for the accelerated adoption of sustainable power technologies in recent years.

Subsidies and Tax Credits

While renewables are now cost-competitive in many areas without financial support, public sector tax credits, feed-in tariffs, preferential financing and rebate programs still incentivize additional deployment globally. Policy support aims to address externalized cost differences and encourage positive technological spillovers. Jurisdictions are focused on further reducing expenses through supportive measures as adoption continues increasing.

Carbon Pricing

Some administrations are also now putting a direct price on carbon emissions to disincentives fossil fuels financially and drive fuel-switching to cleaner energy supplies. Private companies are similarly factoring in escalating carbon prices in their forward planning to hedge risks and reduce possible expenses. Rising carbon costs make emissions-free renewables more attractive economically.

Clean Energy Targets

Over 150 countries now have renewable energy targets in place under Paris Agreement commitments and for economic development priorities. Goals to source larger percentages of power from sustainable sources signal clear government intent while guiding policy and investment decisions. Targets exist at both national and sub-national levels across developed and developing economies alike.

Technological Breakthroughs on the Horizon

Ongoing innovation across solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, battery solutions and other renewable technologies will unlock even greater potential. Next generation advances that enhance efficiency, durability and functionality will support continued progress reducing expenses and expanding clean energy penetration globally.

Solar Energy Storage Breakthroughs

Cutting edge research is developing solar cells that can both generate and store energy simultaneously. These photovoltaic and battery hybrid units will provide inherent storage to enable around-the-clock solar energy. Once refined and commercialized more broadly, such technologies will significantly increase usable solar applications.

Offshore Wind Turbine Innovations

Floating wind turbine foundations that allow safer and cheaper project siting in deep waters far offshore are a transformative concept in development. Growth in offshore will enable increased wind penetration in space constrained geographies. While currently rare, forecasts predict floating foundation installations may hit over 7 gigawatts globally by 2030.

Geoengineering for Ideal Conditions

Some cutting edge renewable geoengineering innovations alter local atmospheric conditions to enable optimal solar and wind generation capacity. For example, spraying salt water into the air can brighten clouds allowing increased sunlight. Controlled turbulence and other wind flow modifications can also boost harvesting.

Widespread adoption of inexpensive renewable supplies globally has been enabled by exceptional cost declines, supportive public policies and rapid technology advances. Ongoing innovations and economies will allow the further growth and penetration of sustainable solar, wind and other alternative energy solutions across societies worldwide in the years ahead. This clean energy revolution holds a game-changing potential for decarbonization and environmental sustainability globally long into the future.