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Renewable Energy the Fastest-Growing Energy Sector of 2015 and Beyond

Commodities / Renewable Energy Jun 26, 2015 - 09:20 PM GMT

By: Investment_U

Commodities

David Fessler writes: I’ve been talking about renewable energy at conferences for the last eight years. Every year, I’ve said renewables will continue to be the fastest-growing energy sector.

And every year, the data proves me right.

Renewable energy sources now generate 28% of the world’s electricity, up from 25% in 2013.


That statistic by itself is incredible. But it’s what renewable energy growth has led to that’s truly amazing. It’s something many scientists viewed as a pipe dream just a few years ago...

I’m talking about the fact that, despite annual increases in energy consumption, global carbon emissions have stabilized for the first time in 40 years. Increased renewable energy output - and improvements in energy efficiency - are responsible.

That’s fantastic news for Mother Earth. It means the next generation (or possibly the one after that) could see the end of fossil fuels.

This past weekend, I spent some time browsing through the Renewables 2015: Global Status Report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (or REN21 for short). The full report is a mind-blowing 251 pages. Here are some of the most interesting factoids...

•China, which is famous for being the world’s top coal consumer, is also the leader in new renewable energy installations.

•Even though solar made tremendous gains last year, it still accounts for only 1% of all global electricity generation.

•Geothermal, one of my favorite renewable energy sources, added 700 MW of capacity in 2014. Kenya was responsible for half of that.

•Of all renewables, wind power provided the biggest increase (51 GW).

With all that momentum, though, let’s not forget about the hurdles renewables still face, particularly here in the U.S...

Greasing the Renewable Skids

Utilities aren’t big fans of homeowners tying their solar energy systems into local grids. It’s a big power management problem for them. So policymakers have had to nudge them along.

Europe, Japan, North America and Australia all have policies in place to make it easier for homeowners and small businesses to produce their own power and connect to the grid. And as a result, many utilities are making big changes to their business models.

But they have to make big changes to their grid infrastructure as well.

Why? Because small residential and commercial power producers tie into the distribution side of the grid (vs. the transmission side). Most utilities currently have antiquated software to control the amount of energy released.

One area imperative for governments to address is heating and cooling. Homes and commercial and industrial buildings consumed half of all energy used in 2014. Renewables provided only 8% of this energy.

Sadly, from an overall renewable policy standpoint, the U.S. is starting to fall behind. But globally, the number of countries with in-place renewable energy policies and targets increased last year. In fact, a rising number of countries have targets of 100%.

While at first that may sound ridiculous, there are plenty of small island nations with no offshore oil or natural gas deposits. For them, renewables make all the sense in the world. Small micro-grids, large enough for a single home or a small village, are fast replacing diesel or natural gas-fired generators. The other advantage of micro-grids? The need for expensive transmission lines and substations largely disappears.

States Take the Bull by the Horns

The U.S. federal government isn’t exactly known for speed. Some states and municipalities have grown tired of waiting for it to pass a national energy policy. So they’re taking the bull by the horns and passing their own legislation.

Cities and towns with major air pollution problems are developing renewable transportation policies. Some even have 100% renewable electricity and/or energy polices in place. (A few have already achieved those targets.)

The good news for investors? The best is yet to come...

A decade ago, worldwide expenditures on renewables were a mere $45 billion. As of last year, that number had hit $270 billion. To sustain a low-carbon economy, it will need to increase to $400 billion annually by 2030.

And it looks like this shift is well underway. Last year, investments in renewables accounted for almost 60% of new global electrical power generation. That's more than coal and gas combined.

If there’s one thing analysts are underestimating, it’s the growth rate of renewables. Ten years ago, projections for installed systems were far less than the actual number today. This sort of underestimation will likely continue for another 10 years.

All the while, renewable energy companies - and their suppliers - will grow faster than anyone is expecting. So make sure you have a few in your growth portfolio.

You can thank me at the next conference.

Good investing,

Dave

Source: http://www.investmentu.com/article/detail/46174/solar-wind-renewables-fastest-growing-energy-sector#.VY2i903bK0k

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