What do renewables hold in store for automation?
Significant opportunities for automation technologies and expertise to work their way into new technologies are close at hand. Applications to monitor and control renewable energy will grow from here on out regardless of the price of oil.
The need for more energy and the lack of reliable supply whether due to depletion of the global supply or political discord is forcing technology’s hand.
Oftentimes market booms arise when distinct technological change happens, and the move toward renewable energy sources may be such a change.
ARC Advisory Group reported providing energy from a variety of sources, including renewable sources, is necessary to meet future needs in both the developing and developed regions of the world.
The driving forces for the development of renewables include concerns for energy security, a global aversion to continued environmental degradation, and possible climate change.
The world runs on energy, and today’s market is huge at an estimated 15,000 gigawatts. This will double by 2050.
Market booms typically occur in conjunction with significant technological change. The need for increasing supplies of energy, and in particular renewables, may fuel the next market boom.
Replacement of significant quantities of the depleting reserves of fossil fuels by renewable sources may be theoretically possible. However, the actual growth rate of renewables will depend upon economic considerations, the extent of competition from fossil sources, and governmental efforts to implement policies that favor renewables.
Market volatility in the oil industry this past year piqued interest in the state of development of alternate energy sources, including renewables.
Geopolitical instability can create market constraints, and fossil fuel reserves are all about the globe. However, renewable energy sources are generally indigenous to local or regional conditions and can thus reduce the impact of import restrictions.
Governments can mitigate risks from energy security by increasing the diversity and flexibility of energy supply sources. As a group, renewables represent one of the fastest growing sources of energy. For example, in the U.S., the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) provided tax credits for renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and biomass energy.
In Europe, renewables already play a significant role in energy supply.
The International Energy Agency groups renewable energy sources according to the relative maturity of the respective underlying technology development.
Renewables are in three generations of technology evolution.
First-generation renewable technologies have been in place for decades, with some applications dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Second-generation renewals have entered the energy market over the last several decades with varying degrees of success.
“Third-generation technologies for renewable energy are in varying stages of development and build upon the continued research and development (R&D) efforts leveraged in part from second-generation commercialization refinements as well as from new technology approaches,” said ARC analyst Russ Novak, who penned the report.
The newer forms of renewable energy include enhanced geothermal and bioenergy systems, concentrated solar power technology, and a collection of technologies associated with ocean energy.
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