| by QBI Solutions

4 Renewable Energy Insights for 2021

We are past the halfway mark of a year defined by the challenges of COVID-19 across all businesses. Renewable has displayed resilience during the difficult months. While many industries had shrinking margins and profitability as the pandemic gathered speed, RE not only survived but also shone. Picture this: Renewables amounting to 280 GW were added globally in 2020.

Another year of such growth will be exciting for the market. Forecasting the exact picture of the market may be difficult, but there is strong optimism for a successful year. To make sense of the renewable energy boom- as well as what might derail growth- we have outlined 4 renewable energy insights for 2021.

1. Renewable Energy Deal-Making Increases Value Chain

Deals from one corner of the globe to the other will probably be the biggest highlight this year. When Joe Biden took over office, he immediately re-signed the Paris agreement.

The culmination of deal-making is the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy in September 2020. This meeting presents a perfect opportunity for the world to review the progress of Sustainable Development Goal 7.

In between these two events, a lot has happened in the renewable energy industry. China has already committed to eliminating its net carbon emissions by 2060. Tesla joined the Standard and Poor's 500 (S&P 500) index. Being a prominent member of this index, Tesla demonstrates the resolve by clean energy companies to participate in financial markets.

2. Energy Storage Improvements

As the power sector seeks to advance, it must tap into energy storage technology. Industry experts believe that 2021 presents the perfect opportunity to apply pumped hydropower, mechanical storage, thermal systems, and other energy storage technologies.

Again, climate protection efforts seem to be the motivation behind energy storage improvements. During the energy storage summit for 2021, the impact of energy storage was recognized. This topic will be one of the most dominant this year, given the fact that energy storage is now a viable investment platform.

Energy assets can now monetize more easily than before, and the price of this technology has fallen remarkably in recent years. With the entry of management software for automatic management of these systems, ancillary services make a lot more sense now.

For markets that have subscribed to the net-zero emissions goal, the need for improved energy storage cannot be emphasized enough. To achieve the most cost-effective energy generation, a blend of storage technologies is necessary.

In 2021, we are going to see a higher integration of wind, solar and other renewables. Off-grid users and isolated grids can enjoy a more reliable energy supply with utility-scale batteries. Such places can minimize or get rid of expensive diesel fuel.

3. Wind is Going Offshore

Many governments globally have grown fond of offshore wind in 2021. No wonder research shows that wind installations will reach record levels this year. In Europe for instance, estimates show that up to 29 GW offshore wind will be installed from 2021 to 2022. The UK is expected to count for the largest percentage of these installations. The Netherlands, Germany, and France are also doing well.
Offshore wind installations are typically in the open ocean. Unless the seabed is too deep and the use of anchors is necessary, these systems are usually fixed to the foundations on the seabed. Wind speeds tend to be faster offshore, so it is possible to generate more power with the same number of turbines compared to onshore setups.

For countries where land is extremely scarce, offshore wind is such a valuable solution. It frees up land for more important uses, yet it doesn’t impact wildlife or human activity.
Some people consider wind turbines as ugly. Offshore wind solves this problem by placing the equipment away from sight. Some turbines can be more than 40 km from the shore. According to the annual offshore wind statistics for Europe in 2019, the average distance from the coastline was 59km.

4. Emerging Hydrogen Economy Expands Clean Energy Infrastructure

The race to decarbonize by 2050 is even more exciting in 2021 because of the developments surrounding the hydrogen economy. Industry leaders and politicians alike are exuding confidence that clean hydrogen will gain more ground this year.

Challenges still exist and could be around for a while longer. For instance, hydrogen loses significant efficiency across its supply chain. At the fuel cells point alone, energy loss can be as much as 50%.

While the development of green hydrogen could generate jobs, there are still very few people with the relevant skills and training. This can hinder the progress of the economy. Add this to high operational costs and you realize why investments in the technology are still far and between.
The positive news is that the fast reduction of prices for batteries, solar, and wind has prompted a higher rate of renewables installation.

The Takeaway

After what has happened globally in the last two years, it will be a long recovery journey for many industries. The rush for new renewable energy technologies is still on, so expect new investments and more reiteration of adherence to emission standards.

The bottom line is that everyone is striving to meet net-zero requirements. As we enter the second half of the year, I believe the best way to solve the multi-faceted challenges of the industry is through collaboration and optimization of available technologies.

About QBI

QBI offers an end-to-end process optimization and information integration platform that allows our clients to manage their assets and operate optimally in all stages of the project: development, construction, asset management, and M&A. It is designed by, and for, renewable energy professionals, and is flexible and configurable by country, state or region, and technology, regardless of the energy source. Your projects, associated tasks, documentation, dashboards and other project-related information are centralized and digitized.

Additionally, we can connect to any peripheral information system, thus optimizing the use of your infrastructure and assets, reducing operational costs, driving energy efficiency initiatives and improving the financial return on your investment. If you want to join the more than 17 GW of Controlled Capacity managed through QBI, contact us here for a demo.

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