This is the conclusion of a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which estimated that about US$ 11.5 trillion in investments will be allocated to electricity generation by 2050. Of this total, 85%, or US$ 9.8 trillion, will be allocated to energy wind and solar and other zero-emission technologies such as hydropower and nuclear, the London-based research firm said.
Better batteries, which allow grid administrators to store energy for times when there is no wind or sun, will enable utilities to take advantage of the falling costs of solar panels and wind turbines. As natural gas plants have the ability to start operating in a few minutes, most distributors who want guaranteed generating capacity will opt for this fuel.
“Coal is likely to be the biggest long-term loser,” said Elena Giannakopoulou, BNEF's head of energy economics. “It is outperformed in cost by wind and solar in generating large amounts of electricity and in flexibility by batteries and gas, which is why the electrical system of the future will reorganize itself around cheap, renewable sources.”
BNEF's projections contrast with the International Energy Agency's more optimistic scenario for electricity generation, predicting that clean energy and fossil fuels will reach parity, with 50% of the market for each, in 2025. The institution's central projection with Paris-based headquarters puts the two sides on an equal footing by 2040 and points out that fossil fuels will account for about two-thirds of generation by then if governments don't take additional steps to tighten regulation, the IEA says.
BNEF's outlook shows that renewables are likely to end up dominating power generation by 2050, by then taking roughly the same share of the sector currently held by natural gas and coal.
The BNEF scenario, set out in a 150-page annual report drawn from the expertise of 65 analysts from around the world, is based on country-by-country modeling for the evolution of the electricity market and on cost projections for the different generation technologies. power.
Gas will retain much of its market share, BNEF says. The nature of power plants that will be built in the future will lean towards high-end units, which can be turned on and off quickly by utilities, and away from base plants, which tend to operate 24 hours a day. BNEF projects that utilities will burn much less coal over time.
Coal's decline will not be enough to dramatically alter the picture of a gradual increase in global temperatures above the 2 degree Celsius threshold since pre-industrial times, which became the United Nations' climate target.
"Even if we shut down all the world's coal plants by 2035, the energy sector would still be moving above the climate-safe trajectory, burning a lot of gas without emissions controls," said Matthias Kimmel, energy economist at BNEF.