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Coal will be squeezed out by renewables

Prices of green electricity and batteries have fallen so sharply that projections for 85–90% renewables by 2035 look “ludicrously conservative”, according to the energy coalition ETC.

Nearly every week over the past year new reports and news from business organisations show renewable energy is becoming more and more cost-effective. Here are two examples: Bloomberg reports that coal will be increasingly squeezed out of the power generation market over the next three decades as the cost of renewables plunges and technology improves the flexibility of grids globally. The Bloomberg New Energy Finance study estimated some $11.5 trillion of investment will go into electricity generation between now and 2050. Of that, 85 per cent, or $9.8 billion, will go into wind, solar and other zero-emissions technologies. Better batteries, which allow grid managers to store power for times when it’s neither breezy nor sunny, will allow utilities to take advantage of plunging costs for solar panels and wind turbines.

Euractive recently reported on the conclusions from the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), a coalition of leading organisations from the worlds of business, energy and finance. Prices of green electricity and batteries have fallen so sharply that even projections for an 85–90-per cent renewable energy system in 2035 now look “ludicrously conservative”, said Lord Adair Turner, the former Chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority, who now chairs the Energy Transitions Commission. Turner said even the most optimistic projections for renewables made in the past had been beaten by the actual costs of deployment on the ground. Taking conservative assumptions on future trends, he said the ETC had come to the conclusion that a 100-per-cent renewable energy system was now clearly within reach – and probably sooner than we think. “We are pretty confident that in 10 or 15 years…you would be able to do a near-total renewable system – 85 or 90 per cent – based on intermittent renewables,” Turner said, adding: “We said 2035 but this is probably ludicrously conservative.” Further price decreases can be expected, Turner said, predicting an auction for solar power at $1 cent per kilowatt hour in the near future. The fall in price of batteries has also been impressive, Turner pointed out, saying the cost of storage per kilowatt had gone down 70 per cent between 2010 and 2016.

Compiled by Reinhold Pape from articles by Bloomberg and Euractive



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