In many parts of the world, we will also see a big step forward as the renewable sector achieves unsubsidized price parity in more and more geographies, and then undercuts non-renewable energy prices. This is already happening in some places. For example, the United Arab Emirates has just seen solar power offered at less than $0.06 USD per kilowatt hour, without subsidy, albeit without balancing costs.
This is good news for consumers and governments, but it also means that societies will need to manage changes in their infrastructure. Up to now, energy supply has generally been controlled by governments, monopolies or oligopolies. However, because renewable power can be generated at small –as well as large- scale, we can all become producers and consumers. This new world of prosumers will require a much more responsive and intelligent management of the market.
However, as renewables deployment increases, countries or regions may be unable to use all the renewable energy they are generating; or renewable energy production may not be sufficient when needed. Local production, demand management, and energy storage can solve these problems.
WSP has the ability to combine vision and analysis with engineering; whether that is working with a company or country to guide their energy future or overseeing a new solar farm.
The Impact of Better Energy Storage
Energy storage also holds promises, mainly in the form of batteries. In developed countries, the opportunity is to resolve the challenge posed by intermittent renewables, as they become an ever more significant source of power on electrical grids.
In developing countries, the opportunity is even more exciting. In a similar way that mobile telephony allowed regions to bypass wired communication and leap-frog directly to wireless, energy storage allows the potential for sites and regions to have 100% renewable power without connection to a wider grid.
Up to now energy storage has been too expensive, but 2016 may be the year we see energy storage move into the mainstream. In sub-Saharan Africa, WSP is looking at solar energy and wind energy with battery storage to actually deliver lower-cost energy than can be produced by a diesel power energy system. This result is possible while also delivering all the environmental benefits that come with renewables.
We are working with consumers, investors, and suppliers across the globe to achieve these same exciting results in ever-widening geographies as renewable energy production and energy storage are more and more economically competitive with non-renewable energy.
It is possible to produce renewable energy at a competitive cost. It is possible to store that energy in order to optimize its usage. We are moving toward one energy future.