Significant reductions in the cost of wind and solar power can unlock demand that could power the world 100 times over, claims a new report.
Think tank Carbon Tracker believes renewables could force fossil fuels out of the electricity mix by the mid-2030s.
Their latest report finds that 60% of the world’s solar resource and 15% of its wind resource are economically comparable with local fossil fuel generation.
As costs continue to fall, fossil fuels could cease to feature in electricity provision by the 2030s, at which point all solar technology and more than half of wind will be economically preferable compared to other forms of electricity generation.
By 2050, wind and solar would displace fossil fuels entirely in supporting technologies such as electric vehicles and green hydrogen production.
The report notes that global energy consumption in 2019 sat at 65 Petawatt hours (PWh). Currently, solar alone has the potential to capture more than 5,800 PWh each year – as much power in a single year as could be generated by burning all known fossil fuel reserves – while onshore and offshore wind would account for 900PWh annually.
Solar costs have fallen by an average of 18% every year since 2010 and shown annual increases in availability of 39%, nearly doubling capacity every two years – the biggest growth for any comparable fuel source. In addition, wind prices have fallen by an average of 9% while capacity has grown 17% a year.
Utility-scale solar PV and onshore wind are now the cheapest forms of new-build energy generation across two-thirds of the global population, according to research from BloombergNEF (BNEF).
The report adds that Africa has the potential to become a renewables superpower, account for 39% of the global installation potential. However, the UK is more likely to focus on offshore due to land constraints.
Carbon Tracker’s energy strategist Kingsmill Bond said: ‘We are entering a new epoch, comparable to the industrial revolution. Energy will tumble in price and become available to millions more, particularly in low-income countries.
‘Geopolitics will be transformed as nations are freed from expensive imports of coal, oil and gas. Clean renewables will fight catastrophic climate change and free the planet from deadly pollution.’
Meanwhile, a new report from renewable energy developer and operator SSE Renewables claims that the four new windfarms located in the Scottish Highlands will add £485m to the UK economy.
The analysis claims that the Strathy North, Achany, Gordonbush and Gordonbush Extension wind farms will generate £327m for the Scottish economy, with the Scottish Highlands benefitting from £131m across the lifetime of the projects.
SSE Renewables’ managing director Jim Smith said: ‘Millions of pounds and hundreds of jobs have been supported and retained in the local, regional and national economies and – crucially – the benefits will continue throughout the projects’ operational lives.
‘Through our direct actions and that of our supply chain, we create local jobs and make a positive contribution to Scottish and UK GDP. SSE Renewables is part of these Highland communities for the long-term and this report lays out our ongoing commitment to them – to share in the value we’ve created.’