Graph of the Day: Solar, wind to dominate new generation | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: Solar, wind to dominate new generation

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Solar and wind will dominate new generation over the next 20 years under virtually any scenario. The rate of rooftop solar PV will be phenomenal.

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If you are looking for a growth sector in electricity generation, it is pretty clear where they are to be found – wind and solar.

Today’s Graph(s) of the Day extends our coverage of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s new report on the outlook for renewable energy investment out to 2030. BNEF canvassed a range of scenarios – ranging from “traditional”, to “new normal” and “barrier busting” – similar to the International Energy Agency’s range of business as usual, new policies, and its 2C (meeting the science) scenario

BNEF says that in its mid-scenario (new normal), 70 per cent of the new power generation capacity added between 2012 and 2030 will be from renewable technologies  – with solar PV and wind will comprise the largest share of new power capacity added to 2030, accounting for 30 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

As the cost of wind and solar falls and carbon prices and other environmental controls, increase the cost of fossil fuels in certain countries, new coal and gas capacity become less attractive, comprising only 25 per cent of capacity additions to 2030.

Nuclear also sees something of a renaissance but this is limited to 5-6 per cent  of total new capacity added to 2030. Interestintly, BNEF sees little deployment of solar thermal, mostly because its construction out to 2020 at least will be curtailed by high costs. The industry will be keen to prove that wrong. All told, around $8.2 trillion or 73% of total asset finance to 2030 will be spent on renewable energy including large hydro.

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In the “barrier busting” scenario, that percentage goes of new capacity from renewables goes up to 75 per cent. What is fascinating in all these tables is the prominence of small scale solar – it will account for 18-20 per cent of all new capacity – even in traditional territory scenario, it accounts for 15 per cent because of its plunging costs. If these forecasts are even remotely right, we are truly on the verge of a solar revolution in the world’s energy markets.


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1 Comment
  1. James Hilden-Minton 7 years ago

    On a percentage basis the three scenario look surprizingly similar. The key difference is in total GW. Under the traditional scenario, coal comprizes 44.6 GW added, while in the barrier busting, it’s a whopping 62.2GW. So how is that adding more solar into the mix, you have to add significantly more coal on an absolute basis? The same could be said of gas, oil and nuclear. This is counterintuitive to say the least. Shouldn’t the point of adding renewables beto reduce conventionals on an absolute basis?

    It could be that we are looking at capaticty metrics (GW) and not production (GWh). But it is even more disturbing to think that capacity of conventionals will enormous in the barrier busting scenario but that utilization will collapse to trivial levels. That implies massive capital expenditure for miniscule output, all this for backup power. I wonder if this analysis looked at the profitability for coal operators. Who in their right mind would build a coal plant just so it could run for two hours per day? If it is not profitable for an independent coal operator, it won’t happen. These scenarios seem to lack basic economic feasibility.

    What makes more sense to me is that as solar penetrates the market, thermal utilization drops and thermal becomes terribly unprofitable. When this happens no new thermal plants get added to the market and most of the thermal fleet becomes retired. Utimately, thermals compete with storage techologies to service the backup power market. Fuels are in fact just a form stored energy.

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