Eight big trends in Renewable Energy to watch out for in 2016

It’s that time of year again. Time to consider what the big trends of the next 12 months might be.

There will be ambitious plans for decarbonisation pushed by states, regional and local governments. The push against wind and solar will become the new denialism, arguments will rage about consumer tariffs as networks seek to protect their revenues, and there will be new technologies in the market such as large scale solar and wave energy. And, of course, there will be an election.

Battery Storage:

Battery storage will be the big thing of 2016, the Tesla Powerwall continues to attract most casual interest and has already signed up some high profile partners. But many other brands are competing in the same market, and its prices are being more than matched by its rivals, including LG and others, who have brought their prices down significantly. Some customers are reporting quote reductions of 50 per cent in the last six months. And if anyone tries to tell you that battery storage won’t take off because the payback time is too high, ask them what their payback time for their car, or their lounge suite was. Many people are simply not going to care.

A new form of denialism – against wind and solar

Expect the fossil fuel industry – coal and nuclear – and their puppets and muppets in the mainstream media – to look for flaws at every occasion, and seek to blame wind and solar for every outage and price hike that is experienced. Naomi Klein this week wrote about the new form of denialism, focused on renewables, and noted the new war on wind and solar from the right wing media. The clean energy industry will need to be on its toes to respond to the predictable.

Network charges

Call it the battle between pro-sumers (those producing their own energy) and the incumbent utilities, or the cost of the democratization of energy. The utilities want to slice and dice tariff arrangements so their revenues are protected. Under the veil of “cost reflective” pricing, they are proposing changes that they admit will see the rollout of rooftop solar cut by half. But critics say the tariffs are anything but cost reflective, and are simply a revenue grab. Expect this issue to figure large in the coming 12 months.

Grid level storage:

Households and businesses are not the only ones interested in battery storage and other forms of storage. Utilities are also finding that storage is helping address some significant problems on their elongated grids, avoiding the need for upgrades and expansion, and reducing the cost of maintenance as well as allowing for even more renewable energy on their networks.

Micro-grids

The arrival of battery storage is creating new interest in micro-grids – be it off-grid locations like mines and remote towns, taking regional centers off the grid (to minimize the huge cost of grid connection), or building new suburbs without any grid connection at all.

Push to 100 per cent renewable energy

Indeed, the push for 100 per cent renewable energy will be a “bottom up” phenomenon. But the whole world could go that way, and save money doing so, if it could overcome the cultural and political resistance.

Wave energy strikes a blow

Wave energy is attracting lot of interest, a combination perhaps the love of the ocean, and the fact that the technologies are edging closer to maturity. Carnegie Wave Energy has installed the world’s first multi-machine wave energy array off the coast of Fremantle.

Carbon price anyone?

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