All renewable energies are being developed, but they are not all at the same stage of maturity.
The worldwide boom in photovoltaics, made possible by the sharp drop in the cost of producing a kWh, is the most spectacular event of the last ten years. Germany has long led the way, but the largest installed capacities are now led by China and the United States.
The future of wind energy is also assured, even if the cost of the electricity produced is still high, especially for offshore installations. New geothermal techniques have also emerged.
Others are still at the experimental or research stage, such as third-generation biofuels made from micro-algae or applications of hydrogen as an energy carrier. A possible “hydrogen revolution” is becoming the subject of debate, but will only be possible if it is possible to produce hydrogen in large quantities other than from hydrocarbons.
On a symbolic level, the challenge of the Solar Impulse 2 solar airplane continues year after year.
What place in the global energy mix?
With the exception of hydropower, which has been produced for a very long time and which generates large quantities of electricity, renewable energies today represent a very small share of the global electricity mix: less than 5%, with hydropower accounting for more than 16% and fossil fuels for more than two-thirds.
Their growth is strong, but it will still take a long time for them to rival traditional energies, especially fossil fuels, in terms of quantity. (See the graph of the evolution of the energy mix over time).
What is the impact on society?
By enabling more decentralised production, at the level of territories and even individual households, combined with digital progress, renewable energies are likely to gradually bring about profound changes in society. Because energy is everywhere in everyday life and simple gestures can save it.
The stakes of the automotive transition with hybrid and electric vehicles, including those using hydrogen, but also the new uses of the car, are considerable.
The advent of digital technology in home automation and networks is making it possible to manage more efficiently the delocalized production and distribution of electricity, taking better account of consumer needs.