The headline reads “Akon Electrifies Africa” but the Grammy-nominated artist isn’t just selling out arenas, he’s bringing electricity to unserved areas on Africa using clean renewable energy. One village at a time, he is solving Africa’s energy problem using solar energy; setting up power plants, solar companies, and utilities that reach those who have been left in the dark. Using a billion-dollar credit line from China, he was able to meet the needs of millions of Africans by spotting the blind spot in the government’s vision and capitalizing on renewable energy.
Now, five years later, the world has caught on to the value of renewable energy and there seems to be no going back. Large, industrial nations like China and India are exploring the possibility of using renewables to meet the needs of their populations. Nations such as Australia and the United States are all experimenting with hybrid renewable power plants, and renewable energy penetration has reached 15% or more in Japan and Germany.
The world’s largest solar power plant in Morocco is making use of uninhabitable dessert to provide power to thousands of its people. Similar plants are springing up all around the globe, taking advantage of solar, wind, and even hydroelectric power to meet the growing needs of their populations. Investors are increasingly looking to renewable energy as an important part of any portfolio. The global renewable energy market reached more than $470 billion dollars in 2014 and is projected to nearly double by the end of 2019. Governments all over the world are increasingly supporting green energy initiatives and developing methods of storage and delivery for the abundance of energy that can be produced by renewable energy plants.
With all of this evidence, it is hard to deny that the future is “green”. Renewable energy and green technology has become cheap enough to be competitive with most coal fire plants. Even small, residential, solar units are becoming a common sight in many countries all over the world. Utility companies have been forced to find ways to make use of all of the extra energy being generated by residential solar units. There are still challenges. Storage is one, but so too is the intermittent nature of renewable energy. But the technology to overcome these constraints efficiently is developing quickly.