Learn about the technologies that would transform the energy sector in 2021 while mitigating the climate crisis.
Fremont, CA: In the past couple of years, we have seen unprecedented protests around the world against climate change. Greta Thunberg and other prominent people of the movement have demanded that the governments ditch fossil fuels and adopt renewable energy. Though the governments have been ignoring the demands for a long time, the time has been reached when they could not anymore. With the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, where all participating countries are expected to reduce their carbon emissions, it is evident that the energy sector is going to witness a shift towards renewability.
In 2021, renewable energy will continue contributing to the increased energy capacity of all major economies. Solar energy is still the most efficient and cheap energy source, while wind energy is catching up and seeing exponential growth. The cost-effectiveness of renewable energy sources is driving major investments which are expected to continue for years to come. By the end of 2021, the cost of solar and wind energy is expected to drop further by 30%. The high demand for renewable energy is going to induce major upgrades and increase the competition in the market.
The renewable energy sector has an immense role to play when we talk about the mitigation of the climate crisis. Hence the governments and private players have to cooperate and innovate in a way that will benefit the planet as well as fetch the companies good profits. There is also a need for the governments to release stimulus packages that would help the industries recover post-pandemic in a way that is carbon-neutral and economically viable. The Oil industry is also expected to transform this year, and the companies might migrate to the renewable energy sector.
Major governments have been skeptical about adopting nuclear energy due to the fear of radiation. But we have reached the point where the energy demand is too high to neglect nuclear energy. There is a need to shift the attitude governments have towards it and embrace it. Major countries around the world are committing to reduce their carbon emission, and pushing forward their sustainable agendas, and nuclear energy must be a part of it.
The market of solar energy has forever increased and 2020 itself saw a large number of such projects. Major economies like the US, China, India, Japan, and Germany, even during the pandemic, manage to inaugurate major solar power plants. Other countries are on the same path. 2021 would see massive developments in floating solar technology. The solar energy sector is also expected to witness innovations to increase the efficiency of the PhotoVoltaic Cells, which is expected to cheapen the cost of each energy unit further.
Floating energy would see some major investments and innovations, and the development in turbine size will continue. The first auction for floating wind plants will also take place this year. The renewable energy sector is also expected to become more sustainable, and as Prince Charles launched the Terra Carta, many enterprises are expected to modify their operations to turn green. The wind power industry would focus on recycling blades across supply chains.
Offshore wind energy will offer the oil and gas company a great option to migrate. Shell already acquired majority stakes in the Emerald Floating Wind Plant, located in the Celtic Sea.
Energy Storage Units
Given the large investment in renewable energy and increasing power generation capacity, one can not forget about storage. The Lithium-ion battery charges are falling, and major investments in large-scale battery storage facilities are expected. The increase in power generated and availability of optimum storage facilities are expected to complement each other and foster mutual growth.
AI has helped transform several industries and increase their efficiency. The development of grids continues, which will increase the demand for AI solutions. AI would help in reducing the complexities of operations. AI could also be used to predict future failures of equipment in the wind and solar power setup, which would enable on-time maintenance and longer life of the equipment. No-code AI would enable the industries to utilize high-end technologies for optimizing their operations even with the lack of expertise. This could lead to not only more efficient power plants, but also cheaper, and reliable systems.
Germany recently formed a new National Hydrogen Council to strategize the development of technologies to harness the energy from hydrogen. Hydrogen is set to dominate 2021 as the EU and several other states are investing in it. For industries where electrification is not feasible (chemical, and transportation industry), hydrogen could promise huge returns. This will also enable hydrogen to make its way into other industries and compete against solar and wind power.
Carbon Capture Technology
Back in Jan 2020, when Microsoft announced that it will go carbon negative, and remove all the carbon they have emitted since their operation began in 1975, it was an unprecedented move since major companies were still talking about carbon-neutrality. Carbon neutrality or negativity can not be achieved without carbon capture. Several governments are considering the inclusion of carbon capture technology in their net-zero plans. The UK government has done this already, and in the US, Elon Musk recently announced a price of US$100 million for finding the best carbon capture technology. Carbon capture would prove to be a great tool for steel and cement industries to become carbon neutral.
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