In Deloitte Global Energy & Resources' recently published report, Alternative thinking 2013: Renewable energy under the microscope, we take up Jeremy Rifkin’s idea of the Third Industrial Revolution and look at some of the key considerations renewable energy developers, investors and policy-makers should be thinking about in the near-term.
It’s been two years since we last published an edition of "Alternative thinking," and in that time much has changed. For one, renewables are becoming less alternative and more mainstream. There’s still a long way to go, but the signs are clear. Renewable energy, for instance, made up nearly half of new electricity capacity in 2011, did the same in 2012, and continues to show growth in all end-use sectors.
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The world is quite literally coming together in Rio for a few days 20-22 June to build consensus on a more sustainable course for our planet. The unifying event is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which has a much more catchy title: Rio+20.
Organized by the United Nations, Rio+20 will enable thousands of government participants as well as many from the private sector—including Deloitte—to play a critical role in creating some innovative business solutions with long-lasting social and environmental impact. A related event being held in Brazil’s second largest city in the days leading up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development is the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, which will focus more on the business contribution to sustainable development. The number “20” is a reference to the years since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio where many countries rallied for the first time around a blueprint for economic growth that would consider social equity and environmental issues.
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The future of renewable energy has been cast into doubt this past year. Natural gas prices have dropped significantly due to new technology that enables formerly uneconomic resources to be reached, creating a lower price bar that renewable energy must meet. The global financial situation has caused many jurisdictions to reduce or eliminate subsidies for renewable power, which has slowed the expansion of projects. Combined with opposition in many regions to the construction of wind turbines, one could wonder if the enthusiasm for renewable energy was an unsustainable short-term phenomenon.
Continue reading "The future of renewable energy" »