Letter from the Editor: Innovation in Renewables

I’ve been thinking a lot about innovation this month. I wrote about how wind construction companies are innovating to lower costs in our cover story and talked about that in my video above.

But I’m also thinking about BIG innovation — the world-changing kind. In April, I attended the Powering Progress Together (PPT) forum, hosted by Shell and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Visionaries from both organizations presented their views of the future of energy.

Cho Khong, Chief Political Analyst for Shell, described two views of the future: one shows gas as the primary energy source with wind and solar also supplying large shares of energy while another shows solar power is the primary energy source by the 2030s.

Amory Lovins, Chief Scientist with RMI sees only an all-renewable future, dominated by distributed solar and wind.

Each visionary began his presentation with photos taken in the early 1900s. In only 13 years, the Easter Parade in New York City went from one filled with horses and buggies to one in which there were no horses of any kind. That means that those buggy manufacturers had only a short time to abandon their business as usual scenarios, retool and become automakers. If they waited too long, they were beat but if they jumped in too early, the market may not have been ready for them.

As Lovins stated, the pioneers have the arrows in their backs, the settlers get the land. It may be time for major fossil fuel companies to start ensuring their companies are ready for a future with wind and solar as a primary energy source and EVs dominating the transportation sector. If they are not already doing that, it may be too late.

 

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference and expo for the transmission and distribution industry. In her role, she works in close cooperation with a large team of committed industry executives to shape the educational content for the event. She also helps assemble the renewable energy content for POWERGEN and helped launch the first Grid-Scale Storage Summit, a co-located event at HYDROVISION International. She has traveled to Germany to see onshore and offshore wind installations; Iceland to see geothermal energy in action; and France to see cutting-edge smart grids. In the U.S. she has visited and reported about bioenergy power plants in Florida, both large-scale and small-scale hydropower; and multiple wind farms, solar PV, and CSP installations. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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