PV, wind, batteries: Energy outlook research

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Check out the latest energy stats as we face our renewable energy future. These facts and figures come from a Bloomberg report.

Renewable technologies – particularly and solar projects—are to take an increasing share of the market. The Bloomberg crosshead for an article about the read: "Investment in will continue to skyrocket as green technologies become cheaper and more efficient."

"Renewable energy is set to go from strength to strength in coming years and it will be generating 50% of global electricity by 2050, according to one of the most authoritative voices in clean energy," said Forbes, about the energy report from Bloomberg.

The report's overview said this: "Wind and solar are set to surge to almost "50 by 50" – 50% of world generation by 2050 – on the back of precipitous reductions in cost, and the advent of cheaper and cheaper batteries that will enable electricity to be stored and discharged to meet shifts in demand and supply. Coal shrinks to just 11% of generation by 2050."

This in further details is the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF) report. NEF is the company's research service and the report topic tells us about the electricity system. "New Energy Outlook (NEO) 2018's research was completed by more than 65 analysts around the world.

Were you hoping for stronger figures behind nuclear? The findings won't oblige. "The report doesn't offer a terribly bright future for nuclear," said Megan Geuss, Ars Technica. "After a period of contraction, the nuclear industry's contribution to electricity generation is expected to level off."

Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF, said coal emerged as the biggest loser in the long run. Cheap renewables will be squeezing out coal. The future electricity system will reorganize around the cheap renewables as coal gets "squeezed out."

Meanwhile, will solar ever overtake wind?

"According to Bloomberg NEF's New Energy Outlook, solar won't overtake wind, at least not before 2050. Wind generation is a classic S-curve, nearly plateauing in total generation terms by 2050. Solar, by contrast, looks like a nearly straight line."

The impact that falling battery costs will have on the electricity mix over the coming decades is discussed. The continuing fall in the cost of batteries will massively increase the ability the ability to store off-peak electricity and sell it when demand is high.

"BNEF predicts that lithium-ion battery prices, already down by nearly 80% per megawatt-hour since 2010, will continue to tumble as electric vehicle manufacturing builds up through the 2020s."

How would that be shaking out for wind and solar? The lead author of the NEO 2018, Sen Henbest, commented. "The arrival of cheap battery storage will mean that it becomes increasingly possible to finesse the delivery of electricity from wind and solar, so that these technologies can help meet demand even when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining."

Overall, the report delivers a cost picture that discusses a "trifecta" of PV, wind and batteries. "The cost of an average PV plant falls 71% by 2050. Wind is getting cheaper too, and we expect it to drop 58% by 2050. PV and wind are already cheaper than building new large-scale coal and gas plants. Batteries are also dropping dramatically in cost. "

Forbes called attention to the report's look at batteries: "This year's report is the first to highlight how falling battery will transform the electricity mix in the coming decades. BNEF predicts that lithium-ion battery prices, which have already fallen by nearly 80% per megawatt-hour since 2010, will continue to tumble as electric vehicle manufacturing scales up through the 2020s."

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More information: about.bnef.com/new-energy-outlook/

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Jun 24, 2018
"BNEF predicts that lithium-ion battery prices, already down by nearly 80% per megawatt-hour since 2010, will continue to tumble as electric vehicle manufacturing builds up through the 2020s."

Unlikely, because the battery industry runs into supply issues. Right now the electric car market is tiny, some thousands of cars per year worldwide, and already it is consuming the majority of the global lithium and cobalt etc. production.

The materials supply must increase by about a 1,000 fold to meet the amount of batteries in both grid storage and electric cars.

It's a practical impossibility because the demand won't go up unless the price goes down, but the supply doesn't go up unless the price goes up. Nobody builds new factories or opens new mines if the prices they're getting keep falling.

Jun 24, 2018
In other words, predicting that electric car manufacturing is bringing down battery prices is putting the cart before the horse - electric car manufacturing only increases when the battery prices go down, not before, because you can't sell the cars before you can make them cheaper.

People just have this weird misconception that making things in larger numbers automatically makes them cheaper, but they haven't considered marginal cost of production. Making more than the optimal number for the market puts the price up, not down.

Producing 1,000 fold more batteries by 2050 requires +27% yearly growth for 30 years. That would be quite an accomplishment.

Jun 24, 2018
Right now the battery market is predicted to grow 12% between 2017-2024


That's some 1.5% yearly growth rate. Of course that's in terms of money, not in MWh and so if you assume the price is going down at 80% in 8 years (-18% a year)you can predict the increase in MWh to be around +20% a year.

So, on that point there's a possibility of getting to the ballpark of the targets by 2050, but that's assuming the market development of lithium batteries does not stall. Right now the price development is driven by subsidies to hide the cost of batteries to boost demand, which allows the industry to expand, but the subsidies become too costly beyond a point - many countries are already dropping EV subsidies as too expensive.

With falling subsidies comes fall in demand, often very dramatic drops (-90% in Denmark for example) and the expansion of the market will slow down.

Lithium is no oil rush.

Jun 24, 2018
Unusually I am not disagreeing with any of Eikka's points about lithium. I am actually more optimistic than Eikka on the future of batteries, and electric cars. With around 40 million Tonnes of known reserves - (and who knows how much will be discovered if demand does keep going up) - seems we will have plenty of lithium for quiet a few decades - and who knows what battery chemistry will be developed in that time. What I find interesting is the tendency to always seek out the negative. Take the example of Denmark - Eikka gives as an example of what happens when subsidies are removed. Well - Denmark currently taxes cars priced less than around $30,000 - at about 85%. Go above that price - and you pay 160%. http://www.yourda...n-place/ Any wonder the sales of electrics (currently expensive cars) - crashes without subsidies?

Jun 24, 2018
It's always hilarious when random internet trolls claim they know that the experts are wrong because they have a hunch.

Jun 25, 2018
This article contradicts quite a few other previous studies. Most especially in wind and solar where remaining less than optimum sites reduce cost efficiency even as technology in wind and solar improves. Previous studies that I have read believe that renewables would max out at supplying about 22% of global energy demand which is about 100% more than it currently supplies.

Additionally, lithium reserve quantities don't reflect the increased cost of acquiring those reserves as they become more dilute and more energy intensive to produce (a common economic problem when stating reserve abundance). The realty is somewhere in the middle between this report which seems short on economics and very optimistic without much support detail and earlier work. Whether renewables supply 22, 35, or 50% of energy demand - the problem is a rather large short fall in future energy supply that still needs to be covered with a new inexpensive energy source - that still isn't on the tech horizon.

Jun 25, 2018
Dug t"he problem is a rather large short fall in future energy supply that still needs to be covered with a new inexpensive energy source." Plenty of studies to the contrary too Dug. It seems clear to me that the question is much more "how quickly can we transition." Shutting down current generation would of course be very expensive. There is a massive amount of inertia to overcome.https://www.scien...-by-2050

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