From wind to hydro and biofuels to solar, advancements in renewable energy have made great strides in providing numerous benefits for the future. However, despite the clear advantages, obstacles remain that are preventing some industries from moving forward with renewable energy initiatives.
In a recent report by Conserve Energy Future, key challenges to adopting greener forms of energy include the following:
Insufficient Energy Storage Capacity
While it’s a great thing that we are beginning to slowly phase out traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels, making a complete transition will require a larger number of bigger facilities to be able to handle the growing demand.
Unreliable Atmospheric Conditions
The fact is, turbines need wind, solar panels need sun and hydro generators need water. Without the cooperation of Mother Nature, the ability to generate energy from many renewable sources just can’t happen.
The renewable energy industry remains a new and emerging industry. As a result, installation and maintenance costs for facilities remain high. Technologies need a few more years to better develop more efficient ways to harness greener forms of energy; in the meantime, adoption costs will continue to be cost-prohibitive for some sectors.
High Upfront Storage Costs
Renewable energy that is collected must be stored. Today, the average energy storage cost runs about 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, but the cost of the battery to store energy can run between $10,000 to $25,000 — due upfront and upon installation.
The distribution network that renewable energy requires relies on nonrenewable energy sources to generate and then transfer the energy where it is needed. When these sources aren’t readily available, there can be substantial delays.
High Upfront Costs
Investing in renewable energy isn’t a cheap endeavor. Power plants and solar/wind farms require large upfront costs to plan, build, implement and maintain. Without the needed capital or investors, establishing new sources of renewable energy is often too cost-prohibitive.
Limited Real Estate for Installation
According to Conserve Energy Future, it takes more than 40 hectares of panels to generate 20 megawatts of energy. An average-sized nuclear power plant generates nearly 1,000 megawatts of energy on 259 hectares, whereas a solar energy facility would produce less than 200 megawatts given the same amount of space. For land-based wind energy, a 2-megawatt turbine requires 1.5 acres, and in the same amount of space, a nuclear facility would generate a maximum of about 850 megawatts. As you can see, the installation of these types of clean energy sources requires a great deal of space.
The advances in renewable energy technology illustrate that the industry has great potential. And while there may be some challenges and obstacles, with more interest and investments, we can begin to leverage even more of this technology for a greener future.
We help renewable energy businesses nationwide meet the specialized insurance challenges of the rapidly growing renewable energy sector. To learn about our unique insurance solutions for this growing industry, contact Loren Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-541-4265.
For more information, read our recent white paper: Occupational Hazards in Renewable Energy & On-the-Job Safety for Workers.