The renewable energy market is growing at an astonishing rate. However, as the number of new technologies increases, so do the challenges. In order to get back on track and meet aggressive climate goals, there are two simple things that need to happen. Renewable energy needs to become more affordable and accessible for everyone while simultaneously retaining its speed and efficiency advantages over fossil fuels. The challenges of the renewable energy market are not insurmountable; it just requires innovation in a variety of fields.
So without any further ado, here are the biggest challenges in the renewable energy market today:
1) The Lack of Infrastructure: Some communities don’t have access to high-voltage power lines or wind turbine technicians. This makes it very difficult to install wind technology. Without the proper support, some rural areas are missing an opportunity for job creation and economic growth.
2) The Fossil Fuel Lobby: As the renewable energy market grows, many conservative politicians have started receiving money from the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuels have a longer track record of success and subsidies that have more staying power than renewable energy technologies. While renewables do receive federal subsidies, they are nowhere near as effective as those given to fossil fuels like natural gas or oil. With the help of some politicians, fossil fuels have a stronger presence in Washington and the current administration.
3) The Natural Gas Lobby: This is really just a part of the fossil fuel lobby, which we covered above. With the natural gas lobby’s help, they can defeat any renewable energy incentives that are proposed. Some state governments are beginning to pass legislation that requires natural gas companies to pay for any renewable energy incentives that they might receive in the future.
4) Subsidies: Subsidies are great at first; however, when too many renewables begin to rely on them it makes it difficult for companies to survive during difficult financial times. For example, some renewable energy companies in Europe were able to survive by selling bonds worth over $10 billion. However, it is also important to note that there are many renewables that don’t need subsidies; they can make money during good economic times or by selling their excess electricity at a profitable rate.
5) The Cost of Labor: According to the Department of Energy, labor accounts for 45% of total renewable energy cost; therefore, we need to take this into account when planning out our business model and operations. Renewable energy programs can be costly if we hire unskilled labor or outsource manufacturing overseas.
There are several other significant challenges that could halt the progress of renewable energy. These include the lack of available traditional power infrastructure and high-cost renewable technologies. One other challenge is that renewables are not compatible with the centralized power system for large parts of developing Asia and Africa. In many areas dependency on fossil fuels exists as a backup for remote communities, who cannot be supplied with electricity reliably from renewables or grid-connected generation assets such as diesel generators.