- July 1, 2016; Vol. 3, Number 7

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New Players on the Grid: Clean energy is soaring, but system capabilities might be lagging

by Sarah Martin and Shantanu Dixit

Renewable energy is growing worldwide, with a six-fold increase in non-hydro renewables during the past decade, from 85 to 657 gigawatts.

This growth used to be limited to developed countries, but now it is happening in significant numbers in developing countries as well. Last year’s record-high investment in renewable energy ($286 billion) was the first time investment in developing countries topped that in developed countries. China, India and Brazil alone accounted for more than half ($156 billion) of that investment commitment.

The shift toward cleaner energy is here. The question is: Are we prepared for it? For starters, there are several market trends that explain renewables’ growth:

• The price of wind turbines and solar panels (photovoltaics) has dropped steeply, by 75 percent between 2009 and 2014.

• Technical improvements are helping drive global deployment. For example, wind turbines are increasingly being designed for low-wind-speed en

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