Four Renewable Energy Trends to Follow in 2018

December 27, 2017  By Jennifer Delony  Associate Editor
Much of what will trend in 2018 in the renewables and broader energy space will be founded in the advancement of the digital grid, but there are other important trends to keep an eye on where sustainable energy is concerned. Here are four trends to follow in the New Year.

Energy Storage KnowledgeAs more people take up the call for the installation of a fleet of energy storage to support renewables integration into the power mix, there has been a considerable effort to understand how storage works and where it will bring the most benefit.

Energy storage pilot, demonstration and trial projects cropped up all around the world in 2017.

One demonstration project in Texas, for example, sought to develop training and education about storage for utilities, while another in Hawaii identified how aggregated storage can form virtual power plants. Proposals for trials in New York were requested in order to optimize commercially available technologies. In the U.K., a trail began to source and optimize recycled electric vehicle batteries for homeowners, and in Australia, a trial now is under way to highlight the benefits of storage combined with solar in remote communities.

Those examples are just a small selection of the ways that energy stakeholders are building up knowledge surrounding the many different options for storing energy and where storage can support renewables development. Expect to see not only a variety of new trials and demonstrations be announced in 2018, but also the results of completed and ongoing projects of this kind make their way into the hands of policy makers as they work to discern the value of storage to the stability of a green and resilient power grid.


Solar plus storage has been popularized not only by its inherent benefits to homeowners, but by the likes of Telsa, which, at the end of 2017, opened its New York showroom for electric vehicles, solar rooftop systems, and batteries. Now, utility-scale wind plus storage is starting to follow in the footsteps of its behind-the-meter cousin.

Utilities and renewable energy developers in the U.S., France, Spain and Sweden in 2017 announced they either started or have completed projects that integrate batteries with wind power projects in their portfolios. And offshore wind got in on the action, with Orsted saying in August 2017 that it contracted ABB to install battery storage for the 90-MW Burbo Bank offshore wind project, and several bids, each with its own version of storage opportunity, coming in for a December 2017 Massachusetts offshore wind tender.

With the global wind power fleet growing older, expect to hear additional announcements come out in 2018 regarding energy storage integration with wind as part of a bigger story about repowering aging wind farms. Operators are looking for ways to make their projects last longer and improve efficiency and financial metrics. Storage will pair nicely with those goals.

Offshore Wind Hot Spot

In the offshore wind sector, the U.S. East Coast was one hot spot to watch in 2017, and frankly, that won’t change much in 2018.

Existing projects are going to begin maturing through the development process and the finer issues will emerge on environmental and other fronts that will be the lessons for more projects down the road. Clarity will come in terms of the cost of the energy for East Coast projects. More states will work to find their own paths and follow the early leaders, such as Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts. Keep an eye on New Jersey, and expect the new governor there, Phil Murphy, to make progress in 2018 where the previous administration dragged its feet for many years.

Stakeholders also will begin to iron out questions about infrastructure and supply chain for building the early fleet of projects lined up for the next 10 years. Those infrastructure resolutions may come in the form of regional partnerships on ports, marine fleets, and labor. And watch for announcements from supply chain stakeholders, such as for blades, turbines and foundations, to make announcements about U.S. manufacturing expansions.

The US Wild Card

After the year the renewable energy industry had trying to stay in tune with changes coming from the Trump Administration, and more importantly, understand how those changes could affect the industry, Trump will remain a wild card on every front in 2018. The general direction of the administration is clear now, but the little surprises will be hard to predict. The best course of action is to stay informed as well as possible. Follow the thought leaders, not just at Renewable Energy World, but throughout the political and energy arenas. Much like the warning you get when traveling; if you see something, say something. We want to hear from you.  

And one final note about what we’re watching in 2018: a topic that didn’t trend in 2017 as much as it probably should have been is cybersecurity in renewable generation and integration. We know it’s not an issue that is being ignored, but we think it deserves more coverage. If you have questions about cybersecurity and renewables that you would like answered, or if you would like to share some information on the topic within our network, please get in touch with us.


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  1. Earth needs renewable and green energy to maintain itself and human beings. Human beings has such responsibility to find them for a sustainable future of the earth.

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