With the global energy demand expecting to rise to over 40% by 2040, and climate change crying out for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy is becoming an increasingly important part of the worldwide energy supply. The EU countries in particular, are striving to reach their 2020 renewable energy targets, which, according to the EU commission, will result in the creation of over half a million jobs, over a nine year period (2011- 2020).
The continuous decline in wind and solar power prices and subsequent drop in renewable energy project costs (also driven by the reduction in manufacturing and installation costs), has fuelled investment towards renewables, which is expected to reach nearly £200 billion globally towards the end of the year. Wind energy in particular is increasingly being seen as one of the most viable energy alternatives, with a rapid uptake in wind power projects over the last couple years. According to the World Wildlife Federation, around a quarter of the world’s electricity needs could be met by wind by 2050!
In particular, the Scandinavian countries already lead the world in renewables, and their drive towards clean energy has not conflicted with their economic growth, having received huge economic benefit from the green energy movement. Denmark’s economy has grown by over 45% from 1990 to 2007, and its CO2 emissions were reduced by more than 13%. 140 % of its electricity was produced through wind power alone in 2015, exporting the rest of the energy to its neighbouring countries. With a year-on-year 18% growth, this sector has created over 8,000 new jobs annually to Denmark alone, and is currently on track to fulfilling its aims of using 100% renewable energy by 2050. Sweden is also tapping into its large potential of wind power and has huge ambitions to become oil-free by 2040. Last year, 57% per cent of Sweden’s power came from renewables such as hydropower and wind sources, with the remainder coming from nuclear power, and currently 95% of the electricity produced in Sweden is fossil fuel free.
The Nordic nation’s current high investments in renewable energy are attracting a large number of international specialist contractors, and creating a huge shift in the energy job market. In recent years, jobs have grown at rates of 20% annually, and this has also been seen outside of Northern Europe. According to a recent report, in the US, the solar and wind industries are on average creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of its economy.
The continuously evolving market has encouraged power participants and foreign investors to collaboratively craft innovative business models, and incorporate intelligent energy systems into upcoming renewable energy projects, to ultimately ensure the industry continues to take advantage of technological advances, and financially benefit from a more sustainable world.