7 shifts that could change electricity for the world

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Bloomberg’s New Energy Outlook 2015 report outlines seven shifts that will shake the global electricity system. Everything from solar to renewables is changing.

Solar, solar everywhere

The further decline in the cost of photovoltaic (PV) technology will drive a US$3.7 trillion surge in investment in solar by 2040. PV will be almost universally the cheapest energy option by 2030.

Power to the people

Some US$2.2 trillion of this surge will go on rooftop and other local PV systems, handing consumers and businesses the ability to generate their own electricity, to store it using batteries and – in parts of the developing world – to access power for the first time.

Demand undershoots The march of energy-efficient technologies in areas such as lighting and air-conditioning will help to limit growth in global power demand to 1.8 per cent a year, down from 3 per cent a year in 1990-2012.

Gas flares only briefly

Natural gas will not be the “transition fuel” to wean the world off coal. North American shale will change the gas market, but coal-to-gas switching will be mainly a US story. Many developing nations will opt for a twin-track of coal and renewables.

Renewables rule

The penetration of renewables will double to 46 per cent of world electricity output by 2040. Fossil fuel generation will drop from two-thirds of supply to 44 per cent.

Climate peril

Despite investment of US$8 trillion in renewables, there will be enough legacy fossil-fuel plants and enough investment in new coal-fired capacity in developing countries to ensure global CO2 emissions rise all the way to 2029, and will still be 13 per cent above 2014 levels in 2040.

Electric swings The fall in steady industrial baseload is making electricity demand “peakier”: its highs will rise higher and its lows will fall lower. Greater reliance on the sun and wind will make supply more volatile, too. To meet this challenge, price incentives and batteries will both boom.

This article is from the September issue of INTHEBLACK

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September 2015
September 2015

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