The end was forthcoming for some industries due to our movement towards greener and more sustainable practices. However, it’s been the driving force for others. A prime example is the renewable energy sector as it continues to break records while traditional energy markets falter.
While other markets rely on finite natural resources, the renewables sector utilises resources that replenish naturally. These renewables include wind, wave and solar power, alongside biomass and biofuels.
With the market continuing to grow, specialists in bolt tensioning in the wind energy sector, HTL Group, analyses exactly where the renewables sector currently is:
The overall performance of the renewables market
The renewables market has gone from strength to strength in recent years. In 2016, 138 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity was created, showing an 8% increase on 2015, when 128 GW was added.
Renewable energy added a capacity of 138 GW of power generation, dwarfing the performance of other sectors and occupying a 55% share. Following in second place, coal created 54 GW of power-generating capacity, while gas created 37 GW and nuclear created 10 GW. Renewables’ huge contribution to the global power-generating capacity accounted for 55% of 2016’s electricity generation capacity and 17% of the total global power capacity, increasing from 15% in 2015.
Figures from UNEP indicate the growth of the renewables sector prevented an estimated total of 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.
Investment in the renewables market
Investment in the sector actually fell in 2016 despite its strong performance and continued growth. In 2016, $242 billion was invested in the sector, showing a 23% decrease on 2015’s figures. This reduction can largely be attributed to the falling cost of technology in each sector.
However, changes to markets on a country-specific basis is another key influencing factor. 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.
Investments within Europe varied between countries, with Sweden, Belgium, Norway and Denmark each showing the strongest investments. UK investment slipped by 1% on the previous year, while Germany’s investment dropped by 14%.
Interestingly, China’s investment reduced by close to a third, down to $37 billion in 2016 from the previous year’s $78 billion. Investment from developing nations also dropped in 2016 to a total of $117 billion, down from $167 billion in 2015. In 2016, investment had almost levelled out between developed and developing countries ($125 billion vs $117 billion).
Renewables now and in the future
Many developments in recent years have helped bolster the performance of the renewables sector. 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 in the past year.
While fossil fuels still dominate the market, with attitudes continuing to shift and equipment prices falling, growth of renewables is expected to continue. In the future, it is inevitable that the sector will overtake more traditional markets on a global scale, revolutionising how we generate and consume energy.