Remember when “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” was the biggest sustainability trend out there? The future of energy doesn’t end with recycling, though.
Sustainable energy initiatives aren’t new, but they are gaining more and more traction and importance around the world.
At Commonwealth Electric, we’re especially dedicated to designing and implementing energy efficiency projects in order to help both the environment and business owners use (and pay for) less power.
Let’s look at some of the current worldwide trends in energy use and efficiency. We’ll also look at some of the trends that we believe will be the future of energy in 2020 and beyond.
Current Energy and Sustainability Trends
Both Millennials and Gen Z (the two largest demographics) rank energy and climate in their top 10 issues to pay attention to. Because of this and the cost of excessive energy use, companies and residences alike have been looking to energy and sustainability trends to save money and power.
Here are three of the most popular energy trends:
1. Renewable Energy Sources, Especially Solar and Wind Power, Dominate
Renewable energy sources like solar power, wind power, geothermal, hydropower, and more are trending currently. These will continue to dominate in the future. Recently, though, renewable energy, especially solar power and wind power industries, have been booming.
For the first time in U.S. history, renewable energy has outpaced the coal industry, providing 23 percent of its power (coal provided 20 percent). We also saw wind and solar providing about 50 percent of the electricity in the US and the cost of these power sources decreasing drastically.
That makes them more accessible for businesses and homes alike to use solar power for their energy efficiency.
2. City and State Energy Pledges and Initiatives
More and more citizens are understanding the push towards sustainability trends. They also understand that the future of energy is in fact the future of the planet.
More and more cities are banning the use of oil and gas in new buildings and even gut renovations, for example. In addition, hundreds of cities in a number of U.S. states are creating pledges and energy initiatives to drastically reduce their energy use and increase energy efficiency in their area.
Many of these pledges and goals have already been reached and new goals put in their place. Pablo Quintero, the CEO of Clean Initiative, says that, “In California, our goal is to produce 50% of our power from renewable energy by 2025 and 100% by 2045.”
Similar pledges and regulations have been popping up all over the country. This has lead to many tax incentives and energy efficiency rebates to help people get on board with these sustainability trends.
Microgrids are an innovative piece of technology that allows for better energy storage and local energy sharing. According to the US Department of Energy, microgrids are defined as:
“a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously.”
Microgrids provide efficient and faster energy sources to local communities. They are also great backup systems in case of emergencies. They also cut the costs of energy and are more environmentally friendly.
While these are definitely not the norm yet, they were a huge trend this past year. We suspect that this technology is going to continue to improve and spread in the future.
Future of Energy and Sustainability Trends in 2020
We know what the current energy landscape looks like, but what about the future? 2020 is a year that still sounds futuristic, so what new and innovative energy and sustainability trends will we see?
Let’s take a look at our predictions.
1. More Emphasis on Nuclear Power
We think that renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are still going to dominate the alternative energy field.
Energy created from nuclear power, also called nuclear fusion, provides more of a long-term solution to the world’s energy needs. This is why we think we are going to see more of this in the future of energy industries and trends.
Indeed, Brandon Swartz, the CEO of workplace sustainability company Indeavor, thinks that, “There is sure to be a greater focus on nuclear power, the most efficient and clean source there is.”
Many are nervous about the idea of nuclear power. However, as technology improves, the quality and quantity of energy produced by nuclear methods cannot be denied.
Nuclear power creates heat that powers generators to, in turn, generate electrical power. This source is also reliable and easily applicable to most industries and applications.
Ethan Segal, who holds a doctorate in astrophysics, goes as far to say that nuclear power can “solve energy and environmental problems in one blow” with “no obvious downsides.”
2. Electric Vehicles
Gas and oil used by vehicles like cars and trucks are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve seen a shift in recent years to hybrid and electric cars, but we expect that shift to be even more dramatic in the future.
It’s estimated that by the year 2033, half of the vehicle sales in the world will be electric vehicles (compared to the 1 percent of the current vehicles that are electric globally today).
Bloomberg estimates that by 2040, there will be over 56 million electric vehicles on the road. This means they’ll comprise the majority of passenger car sales.
Similar trends are expected for buses, trains, and other vehicles.
3. Better Energy Storage
We are often able to produce a lot of clean and renewable energy from solar power, wind power, and more. However, our biggest obstacle is creating efficient ways to store this energy for later use.
Think about it. The most efficient and effective solar power is generated when it’s sunny (technically it can be produced on cloudy days but with a 25 percent decrease in amount, not to mention it can’t be produced at night), and wind power can only be generated when it’s windy.
What about days where it isn’t sunny or windy?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could store energy produced on exceptionally sunny or windy days?
Improving upon energy storage and batteries is going to be a huge focus this upcoming year and beyond. More and more money will be going into researching and developing this part of the energy industry.
Which Worldwide Trends in Energy Use and Efficiency Can
Not all businesses are the same, so not all businesses are going to be able to utilize each of these varied trends. The future of energy will depend on what people and industries find useful.
You’re helping to shape the energy outlook just by using various methods and energy efficiency services yourself.
We have years of experience applying energy and sustainability trends to businesses in practical and useful ways. Contact us to speak with our experts about your options for reducing your energy use and increasing the amount you save each month.