The Challenges of Renewable Energy

    In today’s environmental climate it is becoming more and more clear that renewable energy will need to be the primary source of energy, necessitating less reliance on fossil fuels. Scientists and engineers have made significant strides over the last decade to instill the belief that renewable energy will overtake fossil fuel. Having said that, there are still challenges that must be faced before this cleaner future becomes a reality.

    The most significant barrier to renewable energy is the capital cost associated with it. It is true that in recent years we’ve seen a considerable drop in the cost and application of renewable energy technology, leading many to call it a great sign of progression.

    But, until it becomes affordable for mass use, capital cost will continue to be challenge the adoption of clean energy initiatives. In the long run, renewable energy such as wind and solar will pay off, but it’s the upfront costs that deter companies from taking the plunge — despite ample government incentives.

    For a start-up to enter the energy sector industry, they would be facing incredible upfront costs — which with their limited capital would make it a difficult task to accomplish. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

    “Utilities across the country have invested heavily in these [fossil fuel] technologies, which are very mature and well understood, and which hold enormous market power.”

    In essence, the current market place has been built up for years to be incredibly dependent on natural gas — so much so that the market entry for renewable energy companies becomes difficult. Governments must be able to offer subsidies and financial assistance to allow for an easier entry to market if the promise of renewable energy is to become a reality.

    The feasibility that solar or wind energy can become the sole source of electricity for metropolitan cities is not yet a reality. The sun does not shine continuously nor does the wind blow throughout the entire day. The current demand for energy will simply not be met if we were to move to these energy sources today.

    It is for this reason that energy storage has become increasingly interesting, especially with the automobile maker Tesla Motors entering the market. Being able to store energy at a cost-effective price will be a step forward to solving a major challenge for renewable energy.

    We are also seeing companies such as Solex Thermal Science on the forefront of energy innovation, whose developments have seen increases to production capacity, elimination of emissions, and reduction of energy use by up to 90% in the agriculture and automotive industries.

    Fossil fuel has been relied upon far too heavily, creating an environment where eliminating dependence can put certain industries directly at risk. In addition, while the transition to renewable energy will create employment in many sectors, it is nevertheless an inevitable truth that if the transition from natural resources to renewable energy takes place, certain jobs will become obsolete, creating an economical issue on top of the current environmental challenges.

    It is still to be seen how organizations and government institutions attempt to overcome the challenges of renewable energy, but as long as some in business and government are making strides, all the better.

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