The energy utility sector is split into highly complicated business models. Over the last two decades, utilities have tried to find a balance between growing customer demand for cleaner energy, several newish and refurbished coal power plants, keeping their return on investments steady, and the plummeting costs of installing and operating renewable energy. Moreover, renewables do not have any cost of extracting fuel as the wind, the sun, and the earth’s heat are all are free.
Geographic and weather conditions, along with government policies, pose major challenges for the wider adoption of renewable energy. In all this confusion, startups have started offering customers the option of directly buying renewable energy, putting further strain on the existing monopolies of the energy sector.
Top 5 Countries Globally: Renewable Energy
Using our Startup Search Engine covering 1.000.000+ startups & emerging companies, we analyzed the geographic distribution of global activity in renewable energy. We identified 3.445 startups and emerging companies that develop solutions in this field. According to our data, the US, the UK, India, Canada, and France account for 61% of global activity in this field.
North America dominates the energy industry, accounting for almost half the global activity in renewable energy. Over the last two decades, China has also subsidized solar and wind energy, developing large scale projects like a solar farm shaped like pandas smiling and a plan to set up panels in space to beam solar energy back to earth. However, despite the investments, both North America and China still use coal for powering more than half of their country.
Europe contributes to more than a third of global activity in the renewable energy sector. Even here, investments in renewables have stalled over the last few years. India and South-East Asia are all set to increase their dependency on coal and other fossil fuels, despite ambitious government policies looking at the broader implementation of renewable energy.
Across South America, renewable energy like hydroelectricity and bioenergy already contribute significantly to their energy mix. In Africa, where there is an abundance of natural resources for energy, geopolitics and a general lack of coordination between nations results in countries operating at different stages of adopting renewable energy.
Let’s have a look at some of the renewable energy startups from the top 5 countries globally:
#1 United States | 1.423 Startups & Emerging Companies
Given the geographic diversity and availability of skill and capital, the US is home to 10 of the top 25 hubs developing renewable energy solutions. Innovative solutions are emerging all over mainland USA and in Hawaii – where the adoption of renewable sources of energy, and potential for development and power generation, is quite high.
Based out of the hotbed for renewable energy in Hawaii, Renewable Ocean Energy develops hydrodynamic turbines by combining two proven technologies in the power source and in conventional hydroelectric methods. Their solution uses turbines in ponds, lakes, rivers, or oceans. The startup ensures that the water used is not contaminated and does not cause any marine or environmental ecosystem destruction.
#2 United Kingdom | 287 Startups & Emerging Companies
Advancements in offshore power generation, using solar panels, wind turbines, or even wave turbines, allows the UK to potentially generate sufficient power and reduce its oil imports. With further development of energy storage technologies, the UK will see greater adoption of renewable energy sources.
Underneath the scenic beauty of the Scottish highlands lie deep aquifers with an abundance of hot water. It is little surprise then that British startup Town Rock Energy set up with the aim to establish geothermal energy as one of Scotland’s main renewable energy sources. They currently run three types of geothermal projects in mine water, granite, and in hot sedimentary aquifers. The company also provides energy consulting with the aim of developing geothermal energy grids.
#3 India | 246 Startups & Emerging Companies
The abundance of wind and sun and the availability of a massive coastline makes India one of the most exciting regions for developing and implementing large scale renewable energy. Heavy red tape in approving and completing projects along with a general lack of awareness among the public about the benefits of renewable energy are major stumbling blocks for wider generation and adoption.
Indian startup Avant Garde Innovations develops small wind turbines with the aim of generating a decentralized and sustainable clean energy. Set up in the geographically diverse lands of Gujarat, their Avatar-I is a space-saving and bird-friendly turbine. These silent wind turbines need only a slight breeze of less than 5km/h to get started and can withstand cyclonic winds up to 216km per hour. They have also solved the challenge of oil maintenance by making the turbines gearless and with a direct drive.
#4 Canada | 143 Startups & Emerging Companies
Canada is already the second-largest producer of hydroelectricity. With improvements in wind power generation, Canada can potentially increase its primary source of energy from moving water to the wind or even to ocean-based technologies. Toronto is the major hub of activity with Calgary also sees the increasing development of renewable energy sources.
One of the big stumbling blocks for the wider generation of renewable energy is the ability to store this energy for later use. Based in Ontario, Canadian startup e-Zn develops metalized electricity storage using zinc metal. The Zn Reactor has a unique structure where a charging station at the top of the reactor absorbs energy by forming zinc metal. At the bottom of the reactor, the zinc is dissolved to release energy – and the section between these two areas is where zinc metal is stored.
#5 France | 131 Startups & Emerging Companies
Home to several important inventions in history, France continues to develop innovative solutions for renewable energy. With a well-developed hydroelectricity system, companies are trying different technologies from wind, solar, bio-energy, and ocean-based technologies to diversify the country’s power supply into renewables.
Nowadays, there is a need for energy almost everywhere we go. Whether it’s to recharge mobile phones, cameras, or to run other devices on the go. French startup Kitewinder develops an airborne wind energy generator that is portable, easy to assemble and operate. The concept is that there is always sufficient wind at a certain height which can be utilized for small energy requirements. The apparatus will simply land close to its anchor when winds are down and can generate up to 100 watts of power.
As we can see from these examples, startups are looking at different ways to bring clean energy to the world. Some work with utilities to better distribute and optimize energy while some others directly offer renewables to customers. While shifting to renewable energy is a daunting task for energy utilities, consumers are already reaping the benefits of cheaper installation and operation of solar and wind energy, which has become overall less expensive compared to coal-powered electricity. We may not be too far from large scale smart grids that incorporate all the different energy sources while slowly fading out coal and other fossil fuels.