I have been very attentive this week to all news related to renewable energy, especially the one concerning solar energy, which I have always considered a very interesting technology where, undoubtedly, will lay a big percentage of energy generation worldwide in a close future.


 energia solar 


After checking some articles and reports, the release revealed by Bloomberg, based on the outlooks of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), is the one which has given me more satisfaction because of how complete and interesting is, but overall for its initial point: “the costs of solar energy will slide 66% in 2040, and wind power onshore 47% with renewable energies overlapping most of power plants for 2030”.

The report is based on the latest projection from the main firm of financial journalism made for the New Energy Outlook 2017 (NEO), which basically shows how the global system of generation of energy is decarbonizing.

Let me share my remarks about some conclusions of this report:


It is forecasted that by 2040 the solar energy will grow 14 times its own capacity. By that year, It is expected that both solar and wind energy represent 48% of the installed capacity and 34% of electric power generation, which nowadays indicates 12% and 5%, respectively.


The costs of solar energy will go down 66% by 2040. In countries as big as Germany, Australia, The United States and other smaller ones like Italy or Spain, electricity from photovoltaic panels is already as cheap as coal. For the year 2021 it will be much cheaper than coal in other big countries such as China, India, Mexico, The United Kingdom and Brazil.


China and India show an investment of 4 billion dollars for the power sector, in fact, the Asia Pacific’s region invests almost the same as the rest of the world in power generation. From the total amount of this investment in energy, it is projected that a third will be for wind and the other third for solar; 18% for nuclear and 10% to coal or fuel.


Batteries and new sources of flexibility further the attainment of renewable energies. The report foresees that the market of lithium batteries is expected to scope a valuation of at least $239 billion between 2017 and 2040, the year when 57% of households and businesses will have small scale storage systems, meanwhile nowadays, we see how natural gas provides flexibility of the system in critical moments. High scale batteries compete increasingly with natural gas to provide flexibility of the system in high demand time. The report also anticipates that renewable energies will help reach penetration of 74% in Germany until 2040, 38% in the United States, 55% in China and 49% in India.


In Europe and the United States, the electric vehicles (EVs) will represent 13% and 12% of the generation of energy by the year 2040, respectively. The demand of these vehicles will increase the cost of lithium batteries.


This is surprising information. By 2040 the photovoltaic home energy will express almost 24% of the electricity in Australia, 20% in Brazil, 15% in Germany, 12% in Japan and 5% in the United States and India. This reduces the need of coal plants and high scale gas.


A slow demand, cheap prices in high scale renewable energies and switching from coal to gas, will decrease 87% the use of coal in Europe by 2040. In the United States it is going down to 45%. However, in China it will continue to grow a fifth part during next decade, but it will reach its highest point in 2026. The global demand of thermal coal will decrease 15% between 2016 and 2040.


Spanish version: 7 claves para entender el futuro de la energía solar

Alejandro Betancourt