In any discussion about global warming, renewable energy usually tops the list of changes the world can implement to stave off the worst effects of rising temperatures. The move towards the use of renewable energy has necessitated the creation of instruments to help tackle climate change. The cost of such instruments has dramatically decreased since they were first conceived – in 1977, it cost $77 per watt for a simple solar cell. According to Solar Energy Industries Association the cost of a solar cell now is $0.21 per watt. This reduction in cost has been vital to the emergence of renewable energy as a viable source of power.
The lower cost of renewable energy is a positive sign, insists Seb Henbest, lead author of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report, “We now live in a world where two-thirds of the global population live in a country where wind and solar power is the cheapest form of new electricity”. The share of renewables in meeting global energy demand is expected to grow by one-fifth to reach 12.4% in 2023.
The Paris Accord signed in 2015 at the World Climate Summit is the first binding global objective aimed at tackling climate change. Not only will the agreement have a positive effect on the environment but it will be responsible for sustained job creation. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the agreement will lead to an increase in employment in the sector of up to more than 24 million people, compared to 9.2 million today, making it a compelling industry to further a career in.
In the US, “big business” has also had a significant impact on renewable energy. The US has seen a significant increase in the procurement of renewable power as corporate heavy hitters and industrial giants lock down low energy prices for the next 12 to 15 years. Almost all major corporations have invested in a greener future with renewable energy sources. The RE100, which lists 189 businesses that have committed to sourcing energy from 100% renewable means, is just one initiative that champions the shift towards a carbon-neutral future. For example, The Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) seventh annual report that tracks businesses’ solar adoption ranks Apple as the biggest user, with 393.3 MW of capacity now in place. Apple was followed by other big brands from the retail sector, including Amazon, Target and Walmart. The fact that renewable energy sources supplied more of Americas electricity than coal for the first time this spring is evidence renewables have gone mainstream, which means there will be an increasing number of stable, long-term career opportunities.