Who Will Benefit from the Renewable Revolution?
Aug 01 2018 Read 1012 Times
With solar and wind power now commercially competitive with other forms of energy generation, it appears as though the renewable revolution is here to stay. After all, replacing fossil fuels with clean, everlasting sources of power makes sense in both the short term and the long term, as our planet will eventually run out of the former and is suffering while they are still being exploited.
However, it appears as though not all nations are cognisant of the imminent dominance of the renewable sector. While certain parts of the world are pouring significant resources into sophisticated solar projects and expensive tidal power plants, others are burying their head in the sand and refusing to give up on the most polluting kinds of energy generation known to man. As the world turns increasingly towards renewables to meet its energy needs, who will benefit?
The big winners in this picture appear undoubtedly to be the Chinese. Having endured a reputation as one of the most polluting nations on the planet for decades, the Asian superpower appears intent on turning over a new leaf and has invested more capital in renewables than any other nation on the planet. It has also launched an ambitious plan to phase out the most polluting coal power plants and is pushing heavy investment into electric vehicles (EVs) as well.
With its economy set to overtake the American one as the global frontrunner in the coming years, China is well-placed to benefit from the energy industry of the future. However, it’s not the only Asian country looking to clean up its act. The growing market for CEMS in developing countries – especially in Asia and the Middle East – is proof that the populace is sitting up and taking note of their pollution problems, and governments are under pressure to do the same.
Meanwhile, the EU has prided itself on being pioneers in sustainable living, and the fact that 14 of the top 20 countries from the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) are found in the bloc is testament to that. Three more are found in Europe (including overall leaders Switzerland), while New Zealand, Israel and Japan also score highly, indicating they are likely to prosper in the renewable age.
Perhaps the most notable losers when it comes to a renewable energy transition have to be the United States of America – especially since Donald Trump took the presidential reins. Since taking office, Trump has withdrawn the US from the Paris climate agreement, rolled back a number of environmental reforms put in place by his predecessor and overseen a 2017 budget which spent three times less on renewables than China. He also continues to push investment in coal.
Other countries who continue to rely heavily on this most damaging of fuel sources include India, Russia and South Africa. Of course, China’s incredible energy needs – and its current dependence on the source – mean that it actually consumes as much coal as the rest of the world put together at present, but as mentioned above, that is set to change in the near future. Places like Australia and South Africa are currently benefiting from their persistence with coal as they have a greater monopoly on the markets which consume it, but this dominance is sure to be short-lived as coal dies out.
Elsewhere, the phasing out of other fossil fuels will also hit other countries who are dependent on them hard. Many OPEC nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for example, are heavily reliant on oil for their vast national wealth. Fortunately, both have stockpiled enough capital over the years to invest in diversifying their income and transitioning to cleaner fuel sources going forwards. A failure to do so may mean they miss out on cashing in on the ongoing renewable revolution.
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