The decline in global oil prices is the current hot topic in the energy sector. Clearly, this is having an impact on petroleum prices and manufacturing costs, but it will also have implications for the power generation sector – coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, bioenergy, grid modernization, energy storage and microgrids. Conventional generation will continue to dominate global installed capacity, although compared to four to five years ago, investments in gas and in renewable energy are projected to increase at a greater rate, at the expense of coal and nuclear.
In its latest Annual Global Power and Energy Outlook, Frost & Sullivan remains confident that renewable investment will stay strong and that oil is unlikely to make a major comeback in power generation.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) is currently judged to be the hottest of the renewable technologies. Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the global solar PV capacity, which stood at 93GW in 2012, will increase to 446GW in 2020, with China, India and North America recording the highest growth rates. Even the global leader in solar PV, Europe, will see capacity double by 2020, despite reductions in incentives during the financial crisis.
Incentives, though, are becoming less and less important for a number of key renewable energy markets. For instance, commercial solar PV in North America is increasingly becoming competitive against centralized generation, despite reductions in feed-in tariffs. Offshore wind, on the other hand, is a long way from being viable without incentives. Many U.S. states and European countries have legally binding renewable targets that they are under pressure to try to meet, supporting the growth of renewables.