10 Hopeful Predictions About the Future of Renewable Energy
Everybody has always yearned for energy that would light up the lives of all humankind, but not everyone would’ve believed that we could get there.
Certainly, in the days when folks were warming themselves by candles and finding their outhouses in the dead of night by lantern light, no one would have believed that their entire life would one day be lit by glass bulbs.
Well, lit by bulbs we were thanks to Nikola Tesla and that hack Thomas Edison (the legend goes that ole Tommy Boy stole the invention from the more prodigious Nikola).
At first, light bulbs were manufactured with the highest of quality standards, ensuring the longevity of their incandescence and carrying customer guarantees.
But as the years ticked by, companies grew more and more greedy and, soon, a cabal of them had gathered to address their crooked plans.
They formed what was called the Phoebus cartel and decided to implement what is now referred to as “planned obsolescence.”
In a nutshell, these shady businessmen created a new business model, one that was embraced by the vast majority of the industry—they would design their bulbs to burn out after a set amount of time.
The average bulb now burns out after around 1,000 hours of being illuminated. The Phoebus cartel justified this change by insisting that their new bulbs, the kind we use today, were of better quality and that they burned brighter than traditional bulbs.
Engineers and scientists would later explore alternative options to incandescent light, an exploration which would eventually give birth to renewable energy.
Renewable energy is important for a number of reasons. In addition to offering us longer-lasting light bulbs (LEDs, eco-friendly bulbs, solar, et al.), renewables can save us money and save the planet.
Solar energy harnesses pure energy from the sun, protecting against greenhouse emissions and reducing our dependence upon fossil fuel (coal, natural gas, etc.).
Today, solar panels are becoming more and more prevalent. Perhaps you’ve seen those giant blue squares on your neighbor’s roof?
That’s what we’re talking about. Maybe he’s even smugly rapped about it at a block party as he sniffed his own farts, asserting his superiority over you.
Don’t think him pretentious. He actually is better than you. At least his choice in energy is better than yours.
If you haven’t considered solar, you may just consider it after reading this article.
The environmental benefits of solar energy are manifold. They cut down on pollution, help to combat climate change and reduce our carbon footprint.
As we edge closer to entering the second decade of the new millennium, renewables are only going to get better.
Below are some exciting predictions which futurists and forward-thinking people have been making about what tomorrow will bring.
1. Solar Power Will Be As Affordable As Coal
The folks at Bloomberg New Energy Finance believe that solar power may attain grid parity in less than three years.
Grid parity is the point at which solar would be as cheap for utilities as the more traditional fossil fuels.
2. The Planet Will Be 100% Renewable-Powered by 2050
A research team at Stanford University have predicted that we will be able to power the planet completely with renewable energy alone by the year 2050.
They believe that if we mandate that all new energy production plants utilize renewable energy by the year 2030, this will be an achievable goal.
Their study suggests that 90% of said production would come from solar energy plants and windmills with the remaining 10% coming from geothermal, hydroelectric and wave/tidal power. With people driving hydrogen-powered cars, our carbon footprint would be nothing compared to what it is today.
3. Solar Will Power Your Entire Home
If we go on the word of groundbreaking entrepreneur and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, his company will be able to offer a form of solar power that will enable the grid to power not only electrical devices but also heating, thereby rolling your energy and gas bill into one.
This would effectively end our dependence on fossil fuels once and for all as Musk’s proposed solar power plan would also power all forms of transportation.
However, it is important to note that Musk says these renewables would only cover one-third of local solar power and two-thirds utility.
Nevertheless, as Sam Cooke famously sang, a change is gonna come. Oh, yes, it will. And based on the evidence, Musk’s Tesla will lead the charge.
4. The Future is Already Here
Google has announced that it expects all of its facilities to be powered by renewable energy by the end of 2017.
Facebook, on the other hand, has already erected their New Mexico data center and it is powered entirely by renewable energy.
5. Fusion Energy May Be Coming Sooner Than Later
Miklos Porkolab (no, we did not make that name up, though we do like the idea of an “other white meat” laboratory) is the director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center as well as a professor of physics.
Porkolab (Mmmm!) says that a prototype nuclear fusion reactor could be tested within 30-40 years with proper federal funding.
But don’t take Porkolab’s word for it, both Congress and the White House have expressed much interest in fusion energy technologies as well.
The National Energy Policy Development Group has suggested that the President order his secretary of energy to develop these technologies.
6. Serious Dough Will Be Invested in Renewables
Back in 2015, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund made it intention to divest from coal very clear.
This move away from coal, in addition to the aforementioned move toward R & D (Research & Development) of renewables has lead the people at the World Economic Forum to predict that companies will switch to investing in renewables on a global scale no later than the 2020s.
7. Public Engagement in Renewables Rises Impressively
The think tank at the World Economic Forum also posit that people in areas with community energy ownership will make a concerted effort to implement renewable energy.
In their words, “In 2030, individual and community energy generation contributes to more than fifty percent of the energy mix in developed countries.”
8. Solar Installations Will Rise Significantly This Year
Back in 2016, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicted that there would be a substantial increase in the number of worldwide solar installation by 2017.
“We expect fairly widely spread market expansion,” they wrote. “India could add some 9 gigawatts in 2017, some of which was already financed last year and some this year, twice the 2016 total.”
They go on to say that the US will likely see another 12 gigawatts financed within the year with households and developers continuing to capitalize on the five-year Investment Tax Credit that Congress has extended.
9. A Larger Investment in the Wind
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has also predicted that we will soon see much more interest in wind power with their prognosticators saying, “Look out too for the launch of 4-megawatt onshore turbine platforms from a number of manufacturers, opening up the prospect of further cost reductions.”
10. Donald Trump May Save Us All? Wait…What?
Never thought I’d write that, but if there’s one potentially positive thing that has come out of the recent Presidential election it’s The Donald’s insistence that he will wean the country off its dependence on OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries).
Trump has pledged that he will secure US energy independence, but as with most things Trump, there has been more flip-flopping than at a Sandals resort.
More recently, Trump promised a renaissance for coal, a promise that’s hardly promising to those of us who are looking forward to a cleaner tomorrow.
Luckily for us, we don’t have to take Trump at his word. Others, such as the sources listed above and the staff at The Intellectualist, predict that the real jobs will not be in coal but in renewables.
In an article posted back in February, The Intellectualist noted that the number of coal miners went down by a whopping 24% last year alone.
They also pointed out that the Energy Department employed only 86,035 people in 2016, a super low number when compared to the 370,000 people working in solar.
Solar numbers continue to rise exponentially as the years tick by and, if we go on the evidence here, the future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.