By 2050, renewable energy is set to provide close to 50% of the world’s energy costs. A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance takes a long-term look at the world’s energy production; according to the report, major gains in renewable energy production will come as a result of massive strides in battery technology. Currently, power storage is one of the largest obstacles to the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources like solar and wind. According to the report, wind and solar are set to surge on the back of significant reductions in cost.
Cheaper batteries will enable electricity to be stored and discharged to meet shifts in demand and supply. The report suggests that the average cost of developing a solar photovoltaic plant is expected to drop by 71% in the next 30 years, and the cost of installing a utility-scale wind power plant is expected to drop 58% over the same period.
Unsurprisingly, coal is expected to be the biggest loser in the battle for energy dominance. The report predicts coal to provide just 11% of the world’s power needs by 2050. This number is down from today’s 38%. Despite claims made by U.S. President Donald Trump, close to 40% of US coal plants have been shut down or are marked for closure. To further illustrate, a report from the investment bank Lazard showed that the cost of producing a megawatt-hour of electricity fell to around $50 for solar power in 2017. The same amount of energy costs $102 for coal.
In the first quarter of 2018, solar accounted for 55% of all U.S. electricity added—more than any other type of electricity. Additionally, the price of lithium-ion batteries (the battery used in most electric vehicles) has fallen nearly 80% since 2010. Falling prices for batteries of all types will push the United States’ shift into renewable energy dependence.
The report closes with the expectation that $11.5 trillion will be invested in the renewable energy market between 2018 and 2050. $8.4 trillion is expected to go into wind and solar, while a further $1.5 trillion is expected to fund carbon-neutral power sources like nuclear and hydro.