Sustainability 2.0

Sustainability has  become one of the quickest growing trends/industries in the world. With an appeal stemming from both its environmental and economic benefits, it has generated a wide range of uses and both consumers and companies alike have become quick to embrace new advances in sustainability technology. From the development of electric cars to the emergence of solar panels, sustainability has taken many forms and has enabled a new and wide-ranging industry to take shape before our eyes.

Of all the developments in the sustainability industry, there are three that have pushed ahead past the others and shown a remarkable track record and a substantial potential of growth. These three developments are solar panels, energy storage, and electric cars. In addition to being environmentally friendly and an economic force, they have been able to utilize sustainability and cater it to multiple disciplines at the same time. Electric cars combine sustainability with transportation, energy storage solves environmental safety concerns while simultaneously providing providing an efficient storing system for dangerous energies. Sustainability has seeped into many different industries and in doing so, has allowed a new market to emerge that is united under the ‘sustainability’ brand.

Solar Panels and Solar Home Systems have become a very lucrative and attractive product to consumers and companies alike. Many homeowners have begun installing solar panels onto their homes as a form of new energy. Investors have seen this opportunity as well. In 2015, investors poured $161 billion of capital into solar, the largest amount for any single power source. For Solar Home Systems, the market has grown 23 percent a year since 2012. This is evident of a dramatic change in not just how  the energy market is evolving but especially how quickly this is happening.

Solar energy companies also come with different approaches and technologies. The development of the industry has lead to very varied approaches and solutions to solar energy needs. Two companies in the Bay Area, Pegasus Solar and EverCharge, while both dealing with solar systems, have different approaches to the market and to consumers. Pegasus Solar has worked to introduce LightSpeed Mounta rail-less mounting system. EverCharge, meanwhile, has aimed its focus specifically on solar systems for condominiums and apartments. Both companies deal with the same market and even the same product, but have two noticeably different approaches that show how widespread the demand for solar panels and systems is.

Another great development in the field of sustainability is the emergence of energy storage units. While Energy storage has been around for a long time, in one way or another, the economies of scale and newly emergent technologies (such as flywheel) have allowed energy storage to become a quick developer in the field of sustainability. From 2012-2017, battery costs fell more than 15 percent per year, for a total five-year drop of more than 50 percent. One particularly interesting trend that Mckinsey points out is how the growth of energy storage can intersect with solar energy. “Cheap solar is already proving a challenge to business as usual for utilities in some markets. But cheap storage will be even more disruptive because different combinations of storage and solar will likely be able to arbitrage any variable rate design that utilities create.”

Electric vehicles (EVs) are also revolutionizing the market. In 2017, global sales of new electric vehicles went over a million units for the first time. Growth in sales is only expected to keep going up, with China’s market being the primary proponent of growth. European demand for Electric vehicles has mostly been stagnant but this could be expected to change as incentives for purchasing EVs grows and consumer interest picks up. Despite the stagnation, the European EV market is nevertheless in good health, with Germany and Norway at the forefront. The United States is also growing fast, with sales growing at a 70% year over year.

Overall, the onset of sustainability has allowed many industries to dramatically revamp and begin to revolutionize not just their products but their markets as well. It is perhaps the most economically exciting sector of technology and is changing both how businesses and consumers view the world.