It is recognized that the use of fossil fuels damages our environment. Moving away from these energy sources and towards renewable, sustainable energy sources is humanity’s best chance to slow or even reverse the damage already done.
Last year, most of Europe also saw an energy crisis. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the slowdown in oil supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline have worried European governments. The shutdown intensified when the pipeline ruptured in September. In November, Europe shipped just 1.86 billion cubic meters of oil in 2022, well below the 10.09 billion cubic meters shipped in the same period in 2021.
We still do not know the extent of the European Union’s energy crisis. Reserves are running out, prices are rising, and according to the World Economic Forum, this is “significantly hurting consumers.”
European leaders talk about energy independence from Russia. On March 8, 2022, they published a plan that would make Europe independent of Russian fossil fuels by 2030. The plan, called the REPowerEU concept, aims to diversify gas supplies, increase renewable gases and promote energy savings.
The result of this crisis is that world leaders are increasing their investment in and reliance on sustainable energy sources. In 2021, we saw 173.5 GW of new solar capacity. It was expected to increase by another 260 GW in 2022.
The Current State of Renewable Energy and the Impact of Data
The renewable energy industry is growing at approximately 20% annually. This rapid acceleration brings together wind power, solar power, hydropower and bioenergy sources. Interestingly, data plays a major role in the development of new energy sources.
Data allows solar and wind farms to increase efficiency. The insights offered by these data sources allow these industrial complexes to make adjustments in their day-to-day operations. Data also helps these power plants get more out of every solar panel and wind turbine.
One of the main areas where data helps is weather forecasting. Artificial intelligence (AI) combined with weather satellites and predictive analytics helps predict the amount of energy that will be generated. This assessment is important for integrating solar energy into the power grid.
Big data is also used to plan better wind and solar farm locations. It helps optimize the number of panels or turbines needed to generate maximum output for a given facility. This helps reduce the cost of building these facilities by eliminating waste and unnecessary development costs.
Optimization of renewable energy resources in 2023
There are several tools that we will see more of in 2023 that will optimize performance and increase output. First, AI technology related to renewable energy sources is improving and becoming more affordable for the average energy farm.
Plant owners and managers gain greater access to reliable, relevant and current information to make data-driven decisions. For example, an efficient AI platform connected to a solar farm can help identify solar panels that are underperforming by analyzing the amount of energy being produced. From there, it can analyze whether the investment to solve the problem is cost-effective, and finally, it can explain how to solve the problem.
These complex diagnostics are usually transparent. They are used to increase daily energy yield, reduce maintenance costs and increase profit margins of energy farms.
This year will also focus more on refining solar cells to generate more energy. Our research has shown that cleaning solar panels helps increase energy production by up to 30%. We expect to see robots deployed for these cleanup missions, which will help increase capacity.
Renewable energy storage is another challenge that we believe will be solved in the coming year. Right now, the power companies limit the amount of power he receives. Any energy created above that capacity is lost.
This can lead to several different scenarios. The most obvious would be some sort of storage solution managed by an electric company or energy farm. As more energy is needed, the stored energy can be transferred to the electric company for resale.
However, a more interesting solution may come through the Internet of Things (IoT) combined with the Internet of Energy. This could create a decentralized energy market where industrial buildings or neighborhoods buy their energy directly from energy farms and store it until needed. The energy monitoring technology layer can make data-driven decisions in real-time to drive energy efficiency and improve the customer experience.
Prioritizing sustainable energy sources
According to the World Economic Forum, nearly 20% of the world’s carbon emissions come from manufacturing facilities. Even more astounding, they consume 54% of the world’s energy sources. This double blow to the Earth’s environment must be significantly reduced.
As we move into 2023 and 2024, developing sustainable, renewable energy sources is one way manufacturing plants can reduce their impact on the environment. Manufacturing companies must look for ways to invest in sustainable energy. For example, many factories have large roofs over their plants and large parking lots for their employees. Both of these areas can be expanded to support large areas of solar panels.
These facilities can generate electricity on their own, eliminating their need to tap into the world’s limited resources. The AI technology and automatic cleaning tools discussed earlier can help these plants optimize their energy production by up to 30%. Although each plant has different energy needs, many production facilities can become energy self-sufficient.
The return on investment of these facilities will be returned in three ways. First, by developing their own energy sources, businesses will significantly save on their operating costs. Second, as they move toward becoming a green manufacturing plant, they will have opportunities to work with new markets that prioritize green manufacturing. Finally, they can use their new green status as a marketing engine to reach new customers and increase sales.
How governments can increase their energy independence
Although large areas of open space are needed to develop hydroelectric power or create powerful water currents, every house, building and available space can be used to capture solar energy.
Regional and national governments and municipalities should put solar power generation high on their priority list for 2023 and beyond. They can offer tax credits, subsidies and other incentives, and change scaling laws where necessary, to encourage the installation of solar panels on every home and apartment building.
Governments should also encourage commercial businesses, from office buildings to shopping malls, to invest in their own micro-solar facilities.
These government-led efforts won’t change everything right away, but they can go a long way toward creating energy-independent homes, businesses, cities, regions, and countries. Mass roofing will require some investment, but it will democratize energy, improve the environment and reduce the attractiveness of international oil suppliers to other countries.
Of course, this kind of change requires a change in public policy. Research has shown that fiscal incentives help spur radical innovation in renewable energy. Germany created one of the first renewable energy tariff programs in Europe. The program helps the industry transform into a cost-effective program. When the state decided to lower its feed-in tariff level, the market was large enough and stable enough that it was not noticeably affected.
Based on renewable energy changes
Worldwide, more than 300 gigawatts of renewable energy will be created by 2022.
In 2021, the world’s total energy supply was 14,500 gigawatts, which means that renewable energy accounts for about 2% of the world’s energy supply. We need to see significant research and development and investment by world governments if we are to experience a lasting decline in our dependence on fossil fuels.
There are several countries that are leading the way in renewable energy. Renewable energy provided 49% of Germany’s energy use in the first half of 2022. Costa Rica, Scotland, Norway, Uruguay and Iceland use nearly 100% renewable energy. These success stories are built on the commitment of governments to begin with, and are ultimately taken over by the private sector.
Last year showed positive signs in the direction of expansion of renewable energy. We must continue to build on these successes as we move forward into the future.
Featured Image Credit: provided by the author; CEO of BladeRanger; Thank you!