Renewables and the Power Dynamics

Power Dynamics. source: CSIS

The past few years in the world history have been marred with geopolitical volatility. A prominent risk to the geopolitical landscape is energy crisis (including the renewables landscape). It is a proven fact that every international regime, old or modern, is based on an energy resource. While coal and steam backed the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, petroleum and natural gas served as the backdrop for American hegemony from the late 19th to early 21st centuries. With sustainable development and climate change having gained momentum in the last few years, the present times will certainly be looked back as an era of renewables and alternate fuel resources— and if the media stories are anything to go by China has already begun to take a lead in the same.

China alone is expected to contribute 40% to global renewable capacity growth, as outlined in its 13th five year plan to 2020. As per International Energy Agency—“In fact, China already surpassed its 2020 solar PV target, and the IEA expects it to exceed its wind target in 2019. China is also the world market leader in hydropower, bioenergy for electricity and heat, and electric vehicles.” Interestingly, China is fast moving on from its Feed—in—tariff program to a quota mechanism which will be supported by green certificates.

For now, the renewables market is dominated by 3 countries— China, the US and India, followed closely by European Union. The United States, the second-largest renewables growth market is robust with its onshore wind and solar capacities. This is well supported by the tax incentives, state—level policies for renewable portfolio. But given the new protectionist rhetoric adopted by the US, the future of renewables remains murky. Meanwhile India is projected to increase its electricity generation from renewables by double, though its financial assets and industry infrastructure are questionable. EU, on the other hand, is set to adopt a new EU Renewable Energy Directive which help address policies and market’s predictability.

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