Supply vs. demand: the shifting power generation landscape

Posted on Sunday, September 24, 2017 by The MSS teamNo comments


With increasing investment across Europe, renewable and ‘green’ technologies are seeing a resurgence, becoming an essential part of critical infrastructure in many G7 nations. The Paris Climate Change Agreement, which as of September 2017, 195 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) members have signed, has set forth goals for each member to reach in order to deal with the threat of climate change.

The major goals being to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2°C. To put this into perspective two-thirds of the earths warming recorded, from 1880 to now, has occurred since 1975 at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.

In the first three months of 2017, renewable energy in the UK provided a total of 26.6% of our energy production. Including nuclear energy and low-carbon sources, the total is brought up to 45.6%. On April 21st 2017, Britain had its first ever coal free day, and on the 11th of June, a record 70% of the electricity produced in the UK was low-carbon.

According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) there were more than 9.8 million people employed in the renewable energy sector globally in 2016, a 1.1% increase since 2015. Adnan Amin, Director-General of IRENA confirmed: “The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant.” 

The Director-General went on to say: “Falling costs and enabling policies have steadily driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since 2012, when just over seven million people were working in the sector.”

He went on to say: “As the scales continue to tip in favour of renewables, we expect that the number of people working in the renewables sector could reach 24 million by 2030, more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”

The global trend shows an increase in investment throughout the renewable industry, however despite the UK employing close to 110,000 people across the sector, it is believed that the UK lost more than a third of its solar jobs throughout 2015.

In the US, however, the solar industry has grown by 24.5% - employing over 260,000 people in 2015. On the 8th May 2016, a particularly sunny and windy day, 87.6% of Germany’s energy needs were provided by renewable energy sources.

Further, in 2017 Germany’s renewable industry has grown to such a point where clean energy is being produced in such abundance that fossil fuel providers are being forced out of the market. There have even been some cases where the government has had to pay renewable energy companies to turn off some of their turbines due to a surplus of energy.

With fossil-fuel based energy being put onto the back burner and the reduction in need for coal, the need for renewable power sources will necessitate a shift in employment. As foreign markets reduce their dependencies on fossil fuels and demand dries up, traditional industries will be hard pressed to keep remain competitive.

With this change, the shift to alternative energy sources, as well as the resulting need for expert staff, will be the inevitable result.

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