4 Reasons The Renewable Energy Supply Chain Should Be a Priority
- Dec 28, 2022 8:43 pm GMT
People are increasingly on board with using renewable energy, realizing doing so is a decisive step toward a more sustainable future with less dependence on fossil fuels. However, meeting the world’s goals in this area requires having a more-resilient renewable energy supply chain.
1. A Significant Increase in Renewable Energy Usage Happening Soon
One of the reasons people must collectively focus on creating a stronger supply for the renewable energy sector is analysts expect a significant increase in such power worldwide. A study published by the International Energy Agency in December 2022 said the world would increase its renewable energy usage as much over the next five years as it has in the past two decades. If that happens, it will result in a jump of 2,400 gigawatts of renewable energy from 2022 to 2027.
However, some areas need help meeting targets due to renewable energy supply chain issues. Policymakers in Europe believe green power is a critical part of weaning off of the current energy dependence on Russia. However, supply shortages and slowdowns have delayed transition efforts, particularly for wind turbines.
In the United States, a challenging combination of a new trade rule and supply chain shortages has significantly decreased solar power installations. More specifically, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) forbids items imported into the U.S. forcibly produced by ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. So, in addition to the difficulties posed by finding components already in short supply, the need to comply with UFLPA further slows things down.
A December 2022 Wood Mackenzie report confirmed an overall 17% decrease in solar capacity added in the United States. The data came from the third quarter of the year versus that period in 2021. Relatedly, the issues surrounding the renewable energy supply chain and trade rules will cause a 23% drop in solar panel installations this year compared to last.
Solving the supply chain issues won’t be easy. However, one possibility is for company representatives to reassess their suppliers and look for opportunities to source supplies domestically.
2. People Use Green Energy When the Option Exists
Scientists are increasingly concerned about climate change and insist people must work together to mitigate it. Making progress will take time, but one practical option is to become more dependent on renewable energy.
Researchers from the University of Warwick studied the Swiss energy market due to a change in Switzerland that made renewable energy options the default choices. The data examined the impacts on two suppliers after they introduced green energy options as the standards.
Information associated with the first supplier showed the business had 97% of private customers on the conventional tariff before introducing a green energy option. After people could select renewable energy instead, the percentage on the non-green tier dropped to 15%. At the end of six years, 80% of households were still on the green tariff.
Then, data about the second energy supplier revealed 98.8% initially used conventional energy sources. However, that reduced to 11% after making green energy the default option.
The researchers also used Germany as a case study to assess what would happen if 80% of households remained on a renewable energy plan. Such a scenario would cut CO2 emissions by approximately 45 million tons.
Those fantastic results show why green power is critical to the fight against climate change. However, if renewable energy supply chain issues delay or prevent associated investments, it’ll be difficult or impossible to see such outcomes. Relatedly, consumers thinking about installing renewable energy solutions in their homes may feel discouraged and ultimately pursue other options if they perceive it will take too long due to supply limitations.
3. Renewable Energy Supports Grid Resilience
Shortcomings in the current electricity infrastructure make it ill-prepared to handle threats from extreme weather, cyberattacks and more. However, people familiar with that reality believe renewable energy could be a key in enabling better resilience against whatever the future holds.
A Massive Analysis of the Links Between Renewables and Resilience
A team from the engineering department at Dartmouth University analyzed more than 175,000 energy resources to pinpoint the effects of renewable energy on the existing power grid in the United States. They paid particular attention to the incremental changes necessary to implement green power through small architectural changes using hetero-functional graph theory analysis to track grid-based attacks and improvements.
The results showed no structural trade-offs between grid resilience and renewable energy transition. Those working on the project concluded the outcomes would provide a bipartisan consensus about how to improve the electric grid for the foreseeable future.
Microgrids and Programmable Inverters Foster Grid Resilience
Elsewhere, the three-year AURORA project is an effort led by Siemens in collaboration with National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Holy Cross Energy and Columbia University. It shows a real-life example of the link between renewable energy and greater grid resilience. The initiative involves using microgrids solely powered by inverters. Microgrids are electronic devices interfacing renewable energy with the electric grid. The researchers demonstrated the inverters could form the grid’s foundation and help maintain it.
This project’s test bed included 40 programmable inverters with decentralized controls. The team investigated how they performed under simulated outage conditions. The inverters allowed the creation of a decentralized system, enabling dynamic connections and asset reorganization when necessary. That improved flexibility causes faster recoveries from outages. It also lets people scale back or ramp up the grid’s resources as needed. That makes the grid more future-proofed.
However, such case studies become increasingly possible with a robust renewable energy supply chain. Otherwise, people will likely see such possibilities as prohibitively tricky due to the difficulty in getting the products that push the world towards a greener future.
4. Renewable Energy Supports Better Public Health
Most of the arguments for renewable energy understandably center on environmental sustainability, but significant opportunities exist to unlock public health benefits. That is a finding from MIT researchers who compared the use of wind turbines and fossil fuels.
One of the takeaways was wind power could bring $8.4 billion in nationwide health benefits to the United States. That would happen if people focused on the most-polluting fossil fuel plants and decreased their usage while increasing the reliance on wind power.
Another important conclusion was people could not just ramp up wind power usage and expect the same benefits because many disadvantaged people live close to power plants responsible for heavy pollution. Thus, a combined effort to minimize the impact of those facilities must occur alongside the increased investments in wind power. A reliable renewable energy supply chain is essential for helping such possibilities happen.
A Stronger Renewable Energy Supply Chain Brings Multiple Benefits
These examples show how the world can get closer to a green energy future when people deploy numerous creative strategies. However, those efforts will only become realities when there are sufficient supplies to support the relevant investments.
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