Cost will continue to fall
Every year is an exciting year for energy markets, new trends emerge and old ones simply don’t make the cut.
The price of solar and wind is plummeting considerably with zero fuel cost. Solar prices have dropped by around 62% since 2009, while offshore wind costs have also halved in recent years, reaching £57 per megawatt hour in 2017.
Governments are seeing record-low prices for solar and wind at power auctions, and subsidy-free solar and wind farms are now being developed (Hawaii for example).
Let us take China’s example; China is the world’s biggest polluter, but it is also the global leader in solar generation. They’ve surpassed their solar PV 2020 targets already and they expect to hit their wind targets before 2020.
In total China plans to invest £292bn in renewable power by 2020. Commitments made at the Paris climate summit will also introduce a cap on the coal burning that has caused severe air pollution in many of its cities, with carbon dioxide emissions predicted to peak by 2030.
The renewable industry will generate more jobs
According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, around 9.8 million people now work in the renewables sector worldwide. In fact, wind turbine service technician and solar photovoltaic installer are the fastest-growing occupations in the US. And the £17.5bn that will be invested in the UK offshore wind sector should also create thousands of new jobs.
The battery market is fast growing
In 2018 Tesla should complete its Nevada gigafactory, the biggest battery factory in the world. Not to be outdone, China has announced plans that will grant it the capacity to provide almost 120 gigawatt-hours of battery cells a year by 2021. And large-scale battery factories are also planned for Sweden, Hungary, Poland and Germany.
In April 2017 the UK also announced the Faraday Challenge, the first phase of a £246m investment in battery technology designed to boost research and development and put the UK at the forefront of the energy storage market.
However, it’s important to note that lithium-ion batteries are not the only form of energy storage that could see growth in 2018. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity or compressed air energy storage are also on the rise.