A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance takes a long-term look at the world’s energy production. According to the report, renewable energy, mostly in the form of solar and wind power, is set to provide close to 50% of the world’s energy by the year 2050.
The enormous growth in renewables is being driven by precipitous cost reductions and the advent of cheaper and cheaper batteries that enable wind and solar electricity to be stored and discharged to meet shifts in demand and supply.
The report predicts that the average cost of developing a solar photovoltaic plant will drop by 71% in the next 30 years. The cost of installing a utility-scale wind power plant is expected to drop 58% over the same period. In the first quarter of 2018, new solar installations accounted for 55% of all added US electricity capacity.
The price of lithium-ion batteries – the standard type used in electric vehicles – has fallen nearly 80% since 2010 and will continue to fall as the growth in electric vehicles continues. The same batteries are being used to store electricity generated by solar and wind installations.
The big loser in the battle for energy dominance is coal. According to the report, coal is expected to provide only 11% of the world’s power needs by 2050, down from 38% today. Apart from coal being an environmental disaster, the main reason for its ultimate demise is cost. The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity from solar power fell to about $50 in 2017. The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity from coal was $102.
Overall, Bloomberg expects $11.5 trillion will be invested in the renewable energy market between now and 2050.
Photo, posted October 10, 2012, courtesy of Activ Solar via Flickr.