Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

Earth Day 2020Earth Day 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day although unfortunately, the world is facing global sustainability issues such as COVID 19, climate change, and other issues.
Achieving sustainability is a work in progress and calls for a constant evolution of technologies, ideas, and concepts to develop solutions that are practical and effective. Sustainability solutions will be resilient and focused on overcoming technical and policy barriers that prevent the uptake of sustainability in different sectors of society.

As of today, the world is experiencing some of the pressing global challenges that we probably have not experienced in our lifetimes. Clearly, technology will not or does not provide all the answers that we need today, however, it will help to speed up or assist in moving us towards a sustainable path. Technological solutions are just one part of the big picture as other solutions include policy, regulations, sustainable business as well as innovative financing options that are effective to promote sustainability from a systems’ perspective.

Technology can be broadly defined as the entities, both material and conceptual created by the application of mental and physical effort to achieve some value. Technological change, on the other hand, can refer to several yet compatible concepts involving an improvement in technology or technological progress. According to Rogers (2003), the idea of technological change underpins a social process involving adopters and others who are profoundly affected by its cultural setting, political institutions, and marketing strategies.

Sustainability calls for new concepts and ideas to reverse, for instance, the effects of climate change. Solar photovoltaics (PV) is just one of many of the new technologies to help in sustainability efforts. IRENA notes that renewables such as solar PV and energy efficiency offer a safe, reliable, and affordable way to achieve massive decarbonization in line with keeping the rise in global temperatures “well below 2°C”. IRENA’s analysis shows the combination of renewables, energy efficiency and increased electrification could achieve 90% of the reductions needed in energy-related emissions.

wind power
Renewables are also becoming cost-effective and with time we have seen for example solar power at grid parity. Grid parity is the point when the cost of alternative energy becomes equal to or less than electricity from conventional energy forms like fossil fuels. As such, renewable energy subsidies are now been phased out, and, in the USA for instance, the investment tax credit (ITC) to support consumers in switching to solar was reduced at the beginning of this year from 30% to 26%.

Now, the solar investment tax credit is available to homeowners in some form through 2021. In 2020 & 2021 owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26% or 22% of the cost of the system from their taxes respectively. The ITC will then be reduced to 10% available for only owners of new commercial solar energy systems while there will be no federal credit for residential solar energy systems’.

Furthermore, IRENA’s analysis of renewable energy shows that the cost of electricity from renewable energy technologies has fallen steadily and even dramatically in recent years, and since 2000, especially for solar and wind generation and are now seen as viable commercial options. Also, power generation from renewable sources and technologies has become competitive with fossil-based or nuclear power.

biogas technology

Food waste is another issue that has become a huge sustainability issue over the last decade. In particular, food waste is a major source of methane (CH4) which is one of the most potent gases that is causing climate change. If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming. Hence, reducing food waste around the world would help curb emissions of planet-warming gases, lessening some of the impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather and rising seas.

With these sustainability challenges, it is clear that Earth Day 2020 presents us with an opportunity to contribute to efforts of fighting sustainability issues facing planet Earth and there so many solutions as we have captured above. Here at reneenergy.com, we want to thank you for your continued support and for subscribing to our blog posts. Thank you again. Please subscribe below if you haven’t to keep you posted about our blog posts.



Grid stabilization with increased renewable energy.

AI and solar PVWith the growing environmental concerns about climate change and the need for decarbonization, many private sector organizations, governments, and civil society have committed to a 100% renewable energy future.

As of late 2016, more than 300 cities, municipalities, and regions including Frankfurt, Vancouver, Sydney, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Oslo, Scotland, Kasese in Uganda, Indonesia’s Sumba island and the Spanish Island of El Hierro have demonstrated that transitioning to 100% RE is a viable political decision.

It is no doubt such ambitious targets to transition to 100% renewables will require new tools, concepts, and technologies to cope with the increased penetration of intermittent renewable energy into the grid. The good news is that technological developments, in the artificial intelligence and analytics space have already created tools and solutions needed to enable the decarbonization of the economy according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

As such, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has developed solutions in its recent report on the “Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future” which provides a toolbox of solutions for policymakers and guidance on how to apply them system-wide in a coherent and mutually-reinforcing way.

In particular, these solutions center around the application of digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data and analytics in increasing flexibility in the system for larger integration of renewable energy.

According to IRENA, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data, the Internet of Things and batteries are innovative solutions that will enable massive solar and wind use and amplify the transformation of the power sector based on renewables.

Why AI, Big-Data, and Analytics?

The increasing electrical loads such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) as well as decentralized renewable energy power such as rooftop solar PV systems, commercial solar, and wind power systems will need a more stable grid or a smart grid.

A smart grid is able to learn and adapt based on the load and amount of variable renewable energy put into the grid as a result of having lots of rooftops solar PV, other extra loads to the grid such as electric cars, energy storage (batteries and pumped hydro) and increasing decentralized intermittent renewable energy.

AI and Internet of Things

Without a smart system using artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, grid operators will definitely not cope with the changing electrical loads and the increasing penetration of renewable energy into the grid.

Also, at its core, AI is a series of systems that act intelligently, using complex algorithms to recognize patterns, draw inferences and support decision-making processes through their own cognitive judgment, the way people do.

How can AI support the large integration of renewable energy?

Since renewable energy is very intermittent in nature as we would expect because there is no constant wind or solar generation due to weather changes, renewables such as solar and wind can be unreliable and many utility companies utilize energy storage (batteries or pumped hydro) to deal with this issue.

Excess solar or wind power is stored during low demand times and used when energy demand goes high. As a result, AI can improve the reliability of solar and wind power by analyzing enormous amounts of meteorological data and using this information to make predictions and knowing when to gather, store and distribute wind or solar power.

smart grid AIOn the other hand, AI used in smart grids can be used to balance the grid especially when rooftop solar and other decentralized renewable energy are involved and put into the grid. AI systems utilizing neural networks or complex algorithms to recognize patterns associated with various loads (electric vehicles or energy storage) and increased rooftop solar or other forms of distributed energy (wind or solar) which can make the system to be unstable. The most efficient way to balance this variability in the system is through AI in analyzing grids before and after they absorb smaller units, and in working to reduce congestion.

The IRENA’s report Innovation Landscape for a Renewable Powered Future explains these new AI tools and digital technologies that will support the deployment of renewables as the power sector complexity continues to increase.

According to IRENA, most of the advances currently supported by AI have been in advanced weather and renewable power generation forecasting and in predictive maintenance. However, in the future, AI and big data will further enhance decision-making, planning and supply chain optimization while increasing the overall energy efficiency of the energy systems.

For the renewable energy sector, AI and analytics can support it in several ways such as better monitoring, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy.