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Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships. Now it is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants. Yes folks out of business faster than previously forecast.
That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India.
The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.
“Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when than if,” said Seb Henbest, a researcher at BNEF in London and lead author of the report.
China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices. It’s seriously the most practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently. Then you can even spread the use of electric cars.
Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that’s increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.
BNEF’s conclusions about renewables and their impact on fossil fuels are most dramatic. Electricity from photovoltaic panels costs almost a quarter of what it did in 2009 and is likely to fall another 66 percent by 2040. Onshore wind, which has dropped 30 percent in price in the past eight years, will fall another 47 percent by the end of BNEF’s forecast horizon.
That means even in places like China and India, which are rapidly installing coal plants, solar will start providing cheaper electricity as soon as the early 2020s.
“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.
Coal will be the biggest victim, with 369 gigawatts of projects standing to be canceled, according to BNEF. That’s about the entire generation capacity of Germany and Brazil combined.
Capacity of coal will plunge even in the U.S. Yes even where President Donald Trump is seeking to stimulate fossil fuels. BNEF expects the nation’s coal-power capacity in 2040 will be about half. Half of what it is now after older plants come offline. As well as then replaced by cheaper and less-polluting sources such as gas and renewables.
In Europe, capacity will fall by 87 percent. Especially as environmental laws boost the cost of burning fossil fuels. BNEF expects the world’s hunger for coal power to abate starting around 2026. All as governments work to reduce emissions. Especially in step with promises under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Beyond the term of a president, Donald Trump can’t change the structure of the global energy sector single-handedly,” said Henbest.
So the growth of zero-emission energy technologies means good things. For example, the industry will tackle pollution faster than generally accepted. While that will slow the pace of global warming, another $5.3 trillion of investment would be needed. All to bring enough generation capacity to keep temperature increases. Mind you by the end of the century to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the report said.
The data suggest wind and solar are quickly major sources of electricity. Therefore they are brushing aside perceptions that they’re too expensive. Especially again to rival traditional fuels.
By 2040, wind and solar will make up almost half of the world’s installed generation capacity. It’s up from just 12 percent in 2017. Also they account for 34 percent of all the power generated. All compared with 5 percent at the moment, finally BNEF concluded.
Now Bloomberg reports Natural gas-fired power plants have crushed the economics of coal. Now they are on the path to being undercut themselves by renewable power. As well as big batteries, a study found.
Finally and by 2035, it will be more expensive to run 90% of gas plants.Yes folks and ones even being proposed in the USA. So natural gas will go like coal and then we will build new wind and solar farms equipped with storage systems. Now this is all consequently according to the report Monday from the Rocky Mountain Institute. It will happen so quickly that gas plants now on the drawing boards will become uneconomical before their owners finish paying for them, the study said.
Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s outlook shows renewables will be cheaper almost everywhere in just a few years.
by Jess Shankleman and Hayley Warren, June 15, 2017, 7:15 AM EDT
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