Is renewable energy catching up the conventional energy?

Is renewable energy catching up the conventional energy?

How are we going to provide for all of the world’s future needs, on energy, food, fibre, water and others, without running into such high issues as: conflicting demands on land/water availability and use; rising, and in some cases, unsustainable consumption of commodities, nuclear waste; and regionally appropriate and adequate energy mixes?

In fact, the world needs to seriously consider what will be required to transition to a sustainable energy in future, and to find solutions to the problems which we are facing right now. The solution lies most probably with political consensus. As per ‘Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2014’ of OECD/IEA; it is clear from the below graph that renewable electricity is largely catching up with the conventional electricity sources. We could see the increased scale up by 45% from 2013 to 2020.

Renewable electricity projected to scale up by 45% from 2013 to 2020
Credit: OECD/IEA 2014 (Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2014)

“By 2050, we could get all the energy we need from renewable sources. This transition is not only possible but also cost-effective, providing energy that is affordable for all and producing it in ways that can be sustained by the global economy and the planet. There is noting more important to our ability to create a sustainable future.” As said by Mr. James P. Leape of WWF International. 

It is paramount important to discuss the basic requirements to achieve the sustainable renewable energy in future. These are mainly the Clean Energy, Grids, Access, Money, Food, Materials, Transport, Technology, Sustainability and Agreements. Another reason for renewable energy transition is a climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions.

Global warming threatens the fragile balance of out planet’s ecosystems, and could consign a quarter of all species to extinction. The loss of ecological services from forests, coral reefs and other ecosystems will also have high economic implications. A recent report suggests that by 2030, the world may need to spend more than 200 billion Euro a year on measures such as building flood defenses  transporting water for agriculture and rebuilding infrastructure affected by climate change. The rapid emissions could only be reduced with the increased use of renewable energy in future.

The global cost of lighting is $230 billion per year. Modernizing wasteful technology could save 60% - as proclaimed by International Association for Energy-Efficient Lighting, Stockholm. Using more renewable electricity presents several challenges. We need to generate it, that will mean massively increasing our capacity to produce power from the renewable resources with the least environmental impact – through wind, solar and geothermal power technologies in particular. 

While we will need many more large-scale renewable power plants, we will also generate more power at a local level, using solar PV roof tiles, water wheels and individual wind turbines, for example. While solar and wing have the potential to supply an effectively unlimited amount of power, this is constrained by the capacity of electricity grids to deliver it. Since, our existing grid infrastructure can only manage a limited amount of these variable, supply-driven sources.

How to change the current scenario?

One way of this transition is to help developing countries who need investment to develop their own renewable energy capacity. Countries with advanced renewable energy technology need to share their knowledge and expertise with developing countries. They should also support them to develop their own renewable industries and innovations. Poorer countries need financing to move to a renewable energy future. Multi and bilateral agreements must include support from richer countries to help poorer countries develop sustainable energy projects. 

Local, national and regional governance will need to be greatly strengthened to secure an equitable energy future. We need international cooperation and collaboration on an unprecedented level to bridge the gap between the energy-rich and energy-poor, both within and between countries. Governments, aid agencies and global investors should come together and provide support to replicate projects like these on a much larger scale. Micro finance schemes and other financial innovations are needed to enable this initiative.


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