Is renewable energy infrastructure? According to Miriam Webster, infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, and power supplies) needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.
For the past 100 years, renewables could hardly be considered infrastructure. Our projects were small and added just a bit of energy to the overall power supply. The money invested in renewables paled in comparison to the money invested in traditional power generation equipment and major utilities barely even took notice of them.
However, as you and I both know, all that is changing. In 2015, more renewable electricity capacity was added to the grid worldwide than traditional fossil-fueled electricity capacity. Further, more money was invested in renewable energy equipment, companies and projects than in coal and gas-fired electricity.
Perhaps that’s why Renewable Energy World was invited to participate in Bentley Systems’ Year in Infrastructure conference and awards program this year. I was honored to be asked to judge the outstanding projects in the Power Generation and Utilities and Communications categories. The projects that were nominated for these awards have made enormous impacts on the lives of the people who live near them: bringing power where it never was before and delivering it more efficiently and with less disruption than in the past. If you are curious, I talk about the winning projects in the video above.
As the world continues to transition its energy supply to one that comes from renewable sources, more and more key infrastructure engineers, planners and EPCs will undoubtedly need to understand how renewables fit into our overall landscape. That way, for the next 100 years, whenever they are planning to build more roads, buildings and power supplies, they will by default be sure to incorporate renewable energy.
Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor