Securing the Future of Energy

Securing the Future of Energy

Studies and discoveries in alternative energy resources have been made over the recent decade, spurred by both environmental and political concerns. The glaring ramifications of overreliance on fossil fuels and oil to power our planet have led governments to create incentives for private companies to funnel investments into renewable energy, with the help of grants and subsidies.

At the moment, the bulk of renewable energy plants rests in solar- and wind-friendly European countries, such as Spain, Germany and the U.K. The U.S. is following suit, with President Barack Obama passing a clean energy stimulus package worth US$787 billion in 2009. Despite the economic instability, there has been tremendous growth in the development of solar and wind farms over the past five years. Although the percentage of growth may plateau over the next decade, the actual number of renewable energy farms will continue to rise, calling for more attention to suitable physical security measures.

The market for renewable energy has grown rapidly for some years, according to Ted Campbell, Senior VP of Renewable Energies Business, Schneider Electric. “However, we are expecting the world economy to be affected in 2011 and this will translate to budget cuts for many large countries. Thus, we expect a flat market in 2011 and over the coming years, yet solar energy will continue to grow at an excess of 20 percent over the next five years within the U.S.,” Campbell said. “We Securing the Future of Energy By Mariko Higashiyama produced 18 to 20 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 from solar farms, and predict a doubling of this number at 44 GW by 2015.”

By 2020, renewable energy should account for 20 percent of Europe's final energy consumption. To reach this goal, there has been a boom in renewable installations in different countries, thanks to the support policies implemented by several governments, said Ippazio Martella, President of Marss. In Italy, there is still much room for growth. “We have entered into a Third Budget Law which includes having 7,000 megawatts (MW) of solar panels installed by 2010. We are still far from the goal set for 2020, so it is easy to understand that this market will continue to increase.”

Germany and Spain are among the countries leading the march in harvesting renewable energy. According to the German Trade and Investment Office, the photovoltaic (PV) industry posts an annual turnover of approximately $14 billion and employs more than 133,000 workers. Government incentives within these European countries are also encouraging research and development within the field. In a report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and Greenpeace International, current investment in PV development is worth $47 to $54 billion and could reach $95 billion within the next four years. “The cost of PV panels is going down,” said Chuck Scifers, Head of Business Development, Jet Protect. As PV panel prices fall at a rate of 3 to 5 percent each year, it will advance the growth of large solar farms. “There are three areas of solar development: residential, commercial and farms. Utility and financing companies are entering into agreements to develop large solar farms and we should expect much development in this area.”

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