During a busy season of renewables events over the past couple of months, and listening to a good number of industry leaders and CEOs discussing aspects of our industry, I was struck once more by something very special about the renewables business. For yes, while money does make the world go around (and some of the PV bosses said their firms are expecting growth of 70% or more this year) there is something else going on as well.
Driving many of these businesses – along with some good policies and consequent vibrant markets – is an underlying vision for a cleaner and more egalitarian way of delivering usable energy to all. Many of this industry’s leaders, and their teams, are passionate about what their technologies can contribute – whether in developing countries, by helping stimulate local economies and slowing migration to cities, or in developed urban centres where renewables can become part of a new architecture. They know their technologies can produce large amounts of power or heat without need for fuel and with zero or low carbon emissions.
Some visions are for what can be achieved today, and others look further ahead, beyond the confines of established ideas of how heat and power supplies ‘have’ to be. What they share is a commitment to using resources intelligently in a move towards a lower-carbon world.
An industry of tree-huggers? No, it’s an industry marked out by a high proportion of strongly motivated individuals and businesses putting their time and energy into good business, and with a sense of purpose that goes beyond simply dollars, euros or widgets.
The same sense of purpose shines through in the articles in our current issue. To mention just a few: Eize de Vries visits Vensys, a business whose innovative wind technology goes back a decade, and also presents innovations from this year’s Husum Wind. Uwe Trenkner and Raffaele Piria of ESTIF describe how a number of countries now have legislation requiring the installation of solar thermal in new buldings. Elisa Wood describes how US solar is achieving grid parity on cost, while Simon Ford explains how biogas can significantly supplement natural gas in meeting Europe’s energy needs.