Traditional fossil-fuel based and capital-intensive energy projects, owned by national and international oil and gas companies or large utilities such as Eskom, RWE, Eon, are taking a turn…
In contrast, established oil and gas companies are joining pioneering independent E&P companies, such as those that develop U.S. shale resources. At the same time, advances in wind and solar technology, along with falling costs and generous government incentives, have encouraged individuals, businesses and communities to employ technologies that allow them to generate their own power.
These factors, reinforced by the climate agenda, have encouraged many energy companies to invest in renewable energy. For example, Italian energy giant Eni plans to develop 1 GW of renewable generating capacity by 2021. The company’s expansions will include 220 MW of solar-power capacity at several of its industrial sites in Italy, a 50 MW wind farm for its Badamsha refinery plant and a 10 MW solar park in Algeria at the Bir Rebaa North oil field.
The drivers behind the interest in local energy projects
One feature of renewable energy is its elasticity of scale, ranging from a single rooftop solar panel or wind turbine to large, grid-scale wind farms and solar arrays. An 80 percent fall in the costs of solar power equipment since 2010 and of 25 to 26 percent in wind power equipment has allowed renewable energy to compete with fossil-fuel power generation and made it affordable and potentially profitable for towns, communities and co-operatives of farmers to generate their own power.