Here's Why Solar Energy May Beat Out Coal in a Decade, Bloomberg Technology

The Future is Renewable

Which Countries Are Leading the Change Towards Renewable Energy?

October 2, 2017, Bruno Jacobsen

It is hard to dispute that the future of energy is renewable. The latest data shows that almost 20% of the world’s energy consumption already comes from renewable energies. But this share is expected to increase significantly in the decades to come, powered by new technologies, demand, and concerns over the current sources. What countries are leading this change?

According to Bloomberg, it’s estimated that wind and solar will make up the bulk of new energy investments. From today through 2040, 72% of the $10.2 trillion investment in new power generation will be in wind and solar PV plants. In some places like Germany, solar energy is already as cheap as coal, and China, India, the UK and other countries are expected to join the club by 2021.

So what countries are leading the change into renewable energies? The big players should be no surprise. In terms of sheer capital, economies like China, the US, Germany, Japan, and the UK spend the most money developing their renewable energy resources. China, the leading country, spent $87.8 billion in 2016, and has already committed to spending another $361 billion until 2020. Split by three years, that’s an astounding $120 billion per year.

If these numbers don't sound big enough, the US, the second-biggest spender, spent approximately $58 billion in 2016. Both countries are well ahead of the rest of the world. While the European Union used to account for 46% of total world investment back in 2005, in 2015 that share fell to 17%, evidence of investments flowing to more attractive markets outside of the continent.

These numbers show that future trends towards clean sources of energy will not go away. Governments and businesses must not only keep an eye on these developments, but also seek to be part of them, as we can expect much of the future to be powered by renewables. 

What are some of the drivers for this change? Why are so many companies and governments seeking to rely more and more on renewable energies? The first reason is obvious: they are renewable (we still have some 4.5 billion years of sun left—making it, as far as we’re concerned, infinite), they are expected to become much cheaper than traditional fuels, helping bottom lines, and they are much more environmentally friendly.

In a time of worry for the limitations and future scarcity of current sources, the world population at large is also developing a sense of active duty towards securing the future of our “pale blue dot”—Earth—so far our only home. This can be seen in the shifting preferences of consumers and the increase in demand for more environmental products, whether it’s cars, computers, or food, something companies have also been increasingly eager to capitalise on.

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