Four Renewable Energy Trends to Follow in 2018

Much of what will trend in 2018 in the renewables and broader energy space will be founded in the advancement of the digital grid (Read the story here), but there are other important trends to keep an eye on where sustainable energy is concerned. Here are four trends to follow in the New Year.

Energy Storage Knowledge

As more people take up the call for the installation of a fleet of energy storage to support renewables integration into the power mix, there has been a considerable effort to understand how storage works and where it will bring the most benefit.

Energy storage pilot, demonstration and trial projects cropped up all around the world in 2017.

One demonstration project in Texas, for example, sought to develop training and education about storage for utilities, while another in Hawaii identified how aggregated storage can form virtual power plants. Proposals for trials in New York were requested in order to optimize commercially available technologies. In the U.K., a trail began to source and optimize recycled electric vehicle batteries for homeowners, and in Australia, a trial now is under way to highlight the benefits of storage combined with solar in remote communities.

Those examples are just a small selection of the ways that energy stakeholders are building up knowledge surrounding the many different options for storing energy and where storage can support renewables development. Expect to see not only a variety of new trials and demonstrations be announced in 2018, but also the results of completed and ongoing projects of this kind make their way into the hands of policy makers as they work to discern the value of storage to the stability of a green and resilient power grid.

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Solar plus storage has been popularized not only by its inherent benefits to homeowners, but by the likes of Telsa, which, at the end of 2017, opened its New York showroom for electric vehicles, solar rooftop systems, and batteries. Now, utility-scale wind plus storage is starting to follow in the footsteps of its behind-the-meter cousin.

Utilities and renewable energy developers in the U.S., France, Spain and Sweden in 2017 announced they either started or have completed projects that integrate batteries with wind power projects in their portfolios. And offshore wind got in on the action, with Orsted saying in August 2017 that it contracted ABB to install battery storage for the 90-MW Burbo Bank offshore wind project, and several bids, each with its own version of storage opportunity, coming in for a December 2017 Massachusetts offshore wind tender.

With the global wind power fleet growing older, expect to hear additional announcements come out in 2018 regarding energy storage integration with wind as part of a bigger story about repowering aging wind farms. Operators are looking for ways to make their projects last longer and improve efficiency and financial metrics. Storage will pair nicely with those goals.

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Battery Storage to Help Offshore Wind Farms Maximize Revenue

Offshore Wind Hot Spot

In the offshore wind sector, the U.S. East Coast was one hot spot to watch in 2017, and frankly, that won’t change much in 2018.

Existing projects are going to begin maturing through the development process and the finer issues will emerge on environmental and other fronts that will be the lessons for more projects down the road. Clarity will come in terms of the cost of the energy for East Coast projects. More states will work to find their own paths and follow the early leaders, such as Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts. Keep an eye on New Jersey, and expect the new governor there, Phil Murphy, to make progress in 2018 where the previous administration dragged its feet for many years.

Stakeholders also will begin to iron out questions about infrastructure and supply chain for building the early fleet of projects lined up for the next 10 years. Those infrastructure resolutions may come in the form of regional partnerships on ports, marine fleets, and labor. And watch for announcements from supply chain stakeholders, such as for blades, turbines and foundations, to make announcements about U.S. manufacturing expansions.

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In cities around the world, waste management is a rising crisis, and in many regions, governments are turning to waste-to-energy facilities to control landfill expansion. New Dehli, for example, is facing a serious landfill dilemma over the next five years, when it expects city waste to require an area equal to 7 percent of the city’s land. To resolve the issue, the Indian government hopes to build a waste-to-energy plant that would process one-third of the city’s waste.

China, too, has made waste-to-energy a priority. China Everbright International this year secured its eighteenth waste-to-energy project in Shandong Province alone.

And so the story goes in Latin America, North America, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, and ever more regions. Despite all that effort, however, there is a great deal of progress to be made in putting waste-to-energy policy in place, which in turn would drive the infrastructure build out for this industry. In 2018, expect the number of new project announcements from existing players to remain steady, while progress on the policy front ticks up as the result of a call for change from residents of the largest, sustainably oriented cities around the world.

Read More
Green Investment Group Arranges Waste-to-Energy Project Financing — First Under New Ownership
EU-Wide Tender Process Delivers Waste-to-Energy Plant for Poland

The US Wild Card

After the year the renewable energy industry had trying to stay in tune with changes coming from the Trump Administration, and more importantly, understand how those changes could affect the industry, Trump will remain a wild card on every front in 2018. The general direction of the administration is clear now, but the little surprises will be hard to predict. The best course of action is to stay informed as well as possible. Follow the thought leaders, not just at Renewable Energy World, but throughout the political and energy arenas. Much like the warning you get when traveling; if you see something, say something. We want to hear from you.  

And one final note about what we’re watching in 2018: a topic that didn’t trend in 2017 as much as it probably should have been is cybersecurity in renewable generation and integration. We know it’s not an issue that is being ignored, but we think it deserves more coverage. If you have questions about cybersecurity and renewables that you would like answered, or if you would like to share some information on the topic within our network, please get in touch with us.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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