Videographic on renewable energy. Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell will invest up to $6 billion (4.9 billion euros) per year in green energy after its oil output peaked in 2019, the group said Thursday. VIDEOGRAPHIC
– Green technologies such as offshore wind and solar power are changing the way we produce energy. They’re seen as a crucial weapon in the fight against global warming. Unlike conventional energy sources such as gas, coal, and oil, which tend to be geographically concentrated, all countries have at least one abundant exploitable source, which is renewable.
The challenge lies in developing technologies and adapting existing grids to accommodate a new, more decentralized system fed by sometimes intermittent sources. No wind, for example, means no electricity. But battery technologies, long an obstacle in the delivery of renewables-based electricity, have vastly improved.
Energy-saving batteries are already being mass produced for electric vehicles, while advanced hydrogen fuel cell systems for vehicles could begin rolling off assembly lines within several years. Residential energy storage technology, especially when coupled with increasing solar panel capacity, could also become an attractive option for homeowners. Renewables already generate double the amount of electricity produced by nuclear power. And its share of global energy consumption has increased five-fold since 2000.
Technology improvements and lower costs for solar, wind, and battery storage, in particular, have played a key role in increasing the amount of green energy produced globally. Some experts predict that falling costs of electric cars combined with renewable technology may stymie growth in oil demand from as early as 2020. The power and road transport sectors account for around half of fossil fuel consumption. However, even if solar and wind capacity continues to grow at breakneck speed, scientists warn that it may not be fast enough to cap global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the core goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Treaty.