Tuesday 31/03/2020

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Solar and wind power will be widespread by 2030 (I)

Responsible Investment Specialist

The latest report of the IPCC (October 2018) shows that in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century, and in order to stem off climate change with potentially disastrous consequences, renewable electricity will have to represent at least 48% of global gross electricity production by 2030 and between 70 to 85% by 2050 (according to the IPCC and the International Energy Agency)1.

This represents an increase of more than 60% of gross renewable electricity production in the next 13 years. Technically speaking, such a change can be achieved, but it requires particularly large investments (the IPCC estimates them at USD 2,400 billion between 2016 and 2035) in terms of electricity generation capacity, electricity transportation and distribution as well as electricity storage infrastructure. As a result, governments will need to invest on an unprecedented scale. They will have to take serious decisions with a structural impact on the global electricity generation sector (closing down nearly all coal plants, strong decrease of natural gas and oil consumption2) in order to reach this objective.

Even in a scenario in which global warming were to exceed 1.5°C, it is very likely that solar and wind generation capacity will continue to grow strongly by 2050 and beyond. In all scenarios which the International Energy Agency has assessed, solar photovoltaic electricity has the largest development potential among all electricity generation technologies, followed by wind electricity. There is no denying that solar and wind power are key to the electricity mix of the future.

I. Renewable energy sources: a continuous increase of generation capacity

In 2017, 70% of added net electricity generation capacity globally was renewable energy. This is 3.5 times more than ten years ago, and twice as much as five years ago. A total of 178 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation capacity has been installed globally (which is the equivalent of Brazil’s generation capacity). This is an all-time high. In 2017, there was more solar-photovoltaic electricity generation capacity installed globally than generation capacity based on coal, natural gas and nuclear energy combined. Global investments in renewable electricity generation capacity (USD 310 billion) have been three times higher than the investments made in plants running on fossil fuel or nuclear energy (USD 145 billion).

These figures indicate that renewable electricity is here to stay. It represents a wide-ranging disruption for the entire electricity production and transportation industry.


1. http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

2. https://www.connaissancedesenergies.org/rapport-du-giec-les-chemins-energetiques-vers-un-monde-15degc-de-rechauffement-181008