RenEnergy’s energy predictions for 2020
To mark the start of the new year, we’re sharing our clean energy predictions for 2020. Here’s what we think will be big in the world of solar and storage this year…
Majority of energy to come from renewables
In 2019, 48.5% of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources. We anticipate this year will be even higher, with over half our energy being green.
We also think that the UK will go for longer periods without using fossil fuels. In 2019, the UK went almost three weeks without burning any coal. In 2020, we’d like to see that raise to a whole month.
Bigger and better batteries
We predict that improvements in battery technology will make solar and storage options even more popular. Not only are batteries becoming more effective, they are also becoming more affordable. Without the feed-in-tariff (or a battery), any solar energy not used in real-time is effectively wasted. A battery allows solar energy to be saved, and used outside of daylight hours. Solar plus storage is essential for those who want to operate off-grid, so better batteries will be particularly useful for our colleagues in South Africa. Their customers often need to maintain a steady energy supply to protect their homes and business in times of load-shedding.
However, it is worth mentioning that battery technology comes with some challenges. Mining for lithium (an essential ingredient in many batteries) can cause pollution and damage to local ecosystems. As public interest in environmentalism becomes increasingly passionate, we expect to hear more about this in 2020, too.
EV boom continues
We think these improvements in batteries will continue to grow the adoption of electric vehicles. An improved EV battery allows the cars to retain more charge and achieve a better range. Likewise, the affordability of solar and storage may encourage more customers to choose an EV.
Great progress is already being made. In 2010, there were just 972 EVs on UK roads. At the end of last year, there were over 15,500. As EVs become a more mainstream option, the number of public and community EV charge points will increase too.
Innovation in solar panel design
As well as updates to battery tech, we think there will be further developments to the composition of solar panels, improving their efficiency. For example, bifacial solar panels that absorb sunlight from both sides of the panel. Additionally, researchers are exploring alternatives to silicon, such as perovskite. While investigation into these options is ongoing, we don’t expect to see the products become available until the end of this year. However, we know our trusted technical partners are continually improving their products to ensure quality and effectiveness.
Smart Export Guarantee: not so smart
From 1 January 2020, the Smart Export Guarantee replaces the now-abolished feed-in-tariff. Under this scheme, customers with small arrays (under 5 MW) may receive a payment for exporting additional energy back to the grid. However, the scheme is not as generous as FIT and faces stricter regulations, allowing customers to export much less back to the grid. Our prediction is that the Smart Export Guarantee won’t make much of a difference. It may provide a small perk to domestic customers who don’t use all their generated electricity. But, the real benefit is saving on energy bills and fulfilling a commitment to environmentalism.