Rapidly falling costs of solar and wind could see renewables push fossil fuels out of global electricity production by the 2030s, according to a new report.
Analysis by the Carbon Tracker think tank predicts that by 2030 all existing solar PV capacity and half that of wind will be cost-competitive against fossil fuels, even coal, for power generation across the world.
Continuing falling costs could see fossil fuels displaced out of the market altogether just a few years later, and by 2050 renewables could meet all the world’s energy needs. In fact, the report said PV and wind could meet the global energy demand 100 times over.
Solar’s upfront unit costs have fallen by 18% each year on average since 2010, with a 9% per cent annual fall for wind. That means that currently 60% of installed solar and 15% of installed wind is already directly competitive with legacy hydrocarbon generation.
Carbon Tracker said the world is now “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,” it predicted.
A concerted effort to accelerate renewables’ average deployment to 15% a year would lead to all the world’s electricity being green by 2035, and all global energy use – including heat and transport – following by 2050.