Seven Ways Renewable Energy Will Shape 2021

P.W. Loney, Vista Projects Limited

Though it might not feel like it, the global commitment to renewable energy is increasing with every passing year. We still have a long way to go and things could definitely stand to speed up a little bit, but the future’s looking bright.

Though we don’t know for sure what could happen in the rest of 2021, right now it looks like we’ll be seeing more growth than ever in the renewable energy sector with a push toward different forms of energy, most significantly, solar power.

COVID-19 has been a global tragedy. But with so many industries shutting down to try and stop the spread, the environment was affected in a positive way, which has been proof to us that we can change things if we alter our approach.

The changes haven’t stuck now that the world has been steadily reopening. But it has given new life to the possibility of fixing these environmental problems. So let’s look at what we could see from renewable energy this year.

1. Record-Breaking Numbers in the United States

Earlier in 2020, when Americans were being warned to stay at home, the amount of solar installations actually slowed down. Yet, by the end of the year the country still had more solar power than ever before.

According to the Solar Industries Energy Association, this amounts to 43% annual growth, in spite of what was a shaky start. If this trend continues, the United States is expected to install over 107 gigawatts of solar power in the next five years.

2. Solar Rising in Spain

Solar farms in Spain generated 15,000 gigawatts of power in 2020, an increase of 60%. At the moment, Germany is still leading the charge for solar power in Europe. But at this rate, Spain will double Germany’s pace by 2023.

3. Doubling of Installations in China

Last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that he intends for China to reach complete carbon neutrality by 2060. As part of that initiative, the number of solar installations doubled in the country in 2020. This growth is expected to continue into the new year and then expand exponentially over the course of the decade.

4. Reduction of Coal Usage in the UK

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the United Kingdom has been synonymous with coal usage. But according to data from the National History Museum in London, there was a month period last year when none of it went to electricity production. This was a huge step. Furthermore, Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends for coal to be phased out completely by 2025 in favor of wind farms.

Another option for replacing coal would be to switch to biofuels. This is an area which includes green diesel, biodiesel and biogas. Vista Projects, an integrated engineering consulting firm with offices in Calgary, Alberta, and Houston, is one of the leading forces in this industry and specializes in the digital transformation of large-scale industrial projects.

Their goal is to work with developers and operators to help modernize and adapt these biofuel plants in an ever-changing industry.

5. India Redirecting Solar Power Efforts

Overall, India didn’t actually see a significant increase in the amount of solar installations, and the lockdown contributed to them falling by over 70%. Still, there was a record-breaking number of bids to increase solar power for the country.

It’s highly likely that if India’s economy sees a resurgence and power company finances stabilize, solar power could become the country’s cheapest option.

6. Australia Embracing Solar

As of 2020, almost 30% of houses in Australia are fitted with solar panels. This is due to the fact that power prices have increased to the point where solar is a much more desirable and affordable option.

Unfortunately, usage is soaring so quickly that the solar grid is becoming overwhelmed, according to a 2019 article in the Sydney Times Herald. As a result, changes need to be made if expansion is to continue. Hopefully, those can happen in the near future.

7. Prices Are on the Rise

To end on somewhat of a negative, the advancement of the technology involved in solar power and the need to use different materials has led to increased prices. So while the desire to make the switch is there, many project developers may not be in a financial position to move forward. If that’s the case, it could be a factor in slowing down projected growth in 2021.

For the most part, it’s clear that solar power is the most promising area of renewable energy and one in which we are already seeing huge advancements. Beyond that, traditional energy companies are embracing the need to diversify. I believe they will be exploring new methods and new sources of energy, and it will be exciting to see how that develops over the course of the upcoming year.