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'Safe bet' green tech looks to secure place at top table

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Solar energy panels and wind turbines

•   Renewables to be a solid investment amidst market turmoil - report
•   Clean energy R&D set to rise
•   Still a huge change needed to face down fossil fuels

The world of investing may be an unpredictable place, particularly when the world at large seems to be in more turmoil than usual, but renewable energy is very much seen as a safe option, according to a new EY report

Good news, then, as the struggle continues in green energy's quest to accrue a bigger place in the market from the fossil fuel industry. 

Renewables boost in G20 nations

Further research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that over the last five years, the share of renewable-generated electricity in the world's most developed economies has shot up by 70 per cent. 

This statistic does need to be nuanced by the fact that this means that 92 per cent of electricity generated in G20 countries is still from non-renewable sources. There's some way to go before dirtier options are overhauled. 

Fossil fuels fight back

As a new PR campaign is launched in the States to try and promote fossil fuels as 'clean' and 'sustainable' – could this be a sign that the major players in the old energy industries are starting to feel like they're losing the argument?

Maybe – but oil production alone is a hard thing to predict, so it's hard to know just what kind of inroads alternative energy is making against the traditional mainstays of global energy. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts oil demand going up and up over the coming years; indeed with production falling behind demand in the coming months, despite a glut of oil currently on the market. 

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New energy priorities?

The balance of investment in the energy industry is predicted to shift up to 2040, with a much greater proportion spent on modernising power generation and energy efficiency than oil and gas gas supply. 60 per cent of that power generation money is set to be spent on renewables, driven by China, the EU, the United States and India. 

Research and development of renewable technologies will be crucial. As things stand, global green energy R&D remains fairly steady, but while governments in the most developed countries have been somewhat cautious recently, 20 countries have pledged to double clean energy R&D spending within five years as part of the Obama administration's Mission Innovation initiative. 

Then there's the fact that corporate funding in this area has been on the increase regardless of government commitment, and in developing countries too, investment has been rising rapidly. 

Clerical intervention

The sustainability argument has to be won at national and local level as well as in the global financial marketplace. What is clear is that major players are being convinced that clean is the way forward – and you can't underestimate the influence of the church in such matters. 

Recent statistics show that over 3,500 churches in the UK have switched to renewable energy – or are planning to. It's a small proportion of churches out there, but it's a start. 

While not all religious structures – and indeed other public buildings – can be adapted for renewables, there are other options such as switching to green energy providers, or better still, buying direct from local community energy schemes. There are many ways to take a stake in a cleaner, greener future. 

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Gary Hartley's picture
Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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