The clean energy revolution is unfolding even faster than previously thought, which will have massive ramifications not just for the solar and wind industry, but also for the fading fortunes of old King Coal.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) published its “New Energy Outlook” (NEO), with renewable energy forecasts through 2040. BNEF says that the costs of wind and solar are falling rapidly, and the transition to cleaner energy will be more significant than expected. “This year’s report suggests that the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including those in electric vehicles, in balancing supply and demand,” said Seb Henbest, BNEF’s lead author of the NEO 2017.
Solar is already cost-competitive with coal and natural gas in parts of Europe and the U.S., and solar will become cheaper than fossil fuels even in China, India, Brazil, and Mexico by 2021. “These tipping points are all happening earlier and we just can’t deny that this technology is getting cheaper than we previously thought,” said Henbest
Between now and 2040, the world will invest $10.2 trillion in new electricity generation – and renewables will capture three-quarters of that total. As a result, by 2040, wind and solar will account for 48 percent of the total installed electricity capacity around the world, up from 12 percent now. Batteries become dramatically cheaper, making residential and utility-scale energy storage mainstream. Electric vehicles will also become widespread, helping to balance the grid from intermittent sources of generation from wind and solar.