ThE Economics and ENTERPRISE of Renewable Energy

By Naomi Harris, GLOBUS Correspondent

Renewable energy is the hope for the future. As the climate situation worsens, bringing with it ever greater environmental devastation, there has been a surge in the demand for renewable energy. It is clear that we cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels any longer. Renewables give us the opportunity to move away from fossil fuels, and into a greener, cleaner future. 

But the fossil fuel industry is a big industry. A big industry. Currently the 1,500 oil and gas firms on the stock exchange amount to a worth of $4.65 trillion dollars. In the UK, nearly 17,000 people were employed in the crude oil and natural gas sector in 2016. A collapse of this industry will have devastating economic and social consequences. Consequently, many countries are turning to renewable energy, anticipating the change in the energy sector. 

Germany is a clear leader when it comes to renewable energy, with the country having produced enough renewables to power every household in the country for the year in the first half of 2018 alone. Other nations are looking to profit off the renewable energy boom through exports. For example, Norway currently earns £927 million from shipping renewable energy abroad, with this figure set to grow nearly 8 times over by 2030. Here in the UK, even, we export £525 million worth of wind and tidal energy every year. Sweden, on the other hand, takes the opposite approach, as it imports waste from abroad which it then converts into energy that heats Swedish homes; tackling both the issue of climate change and waste production in one fell swoop.   

All this work and investment has seen the popularity of renewable energy rise in the past decade. In 2019, more fossil fuel power plants were decommissioned than built in Europe. Similarly, renewable energies provide a third of the world’s power and we have now reached a point where solar and wind power are now the cheapest form of electricity in two-thirds of the world. As consumers we have helped change the conversation on energy, demanding a better quality of life for our generation and those to come.  

This shift has also helped convert some of fossil fuels’ most loyal advocates. China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas producer at 27% of total global emissions, are also now one of the world’s largest exporters of solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles. They account for 37% of all electric vehicles manufactured since 2011, with predictions projecting 60% of electric vehicles by 2030 to by supplied by China. However, despite the science and data being clear, the oil and gas industries continue to play with the climate. Oil and gas companies invest, on average, just 1.3% of their total budget on renewable energy.  

Therefore, what can we do to maintain this momentum towards a renewable future? Most importantly, switch to a green energy supplier. This is the simplest way to help break up fossil fuel monopolies within the energy markets. And in this time of severe social and economic turmoil, a clear message from the public has never been so vital.  

Photo: Thomas Richter on unsplash 

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