Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

2017: A record year for renewables

In 2017, just 22.6% of investment in new generation capacity was in fossil fuels.  Some of that was in gas, which is still (though prolly for not much longer) the complementary generation of choice to match renewables, because it can be easily dialled up and down to match fluctuations in demand and supply.  I forecast that the percentage of new investment in electricity generation for coal will fall away to zero over the next 5 years, while investment in gas will continue at a diminishing pace for a little longer.  That 22.6% will be half that in 5 years and gone in 10.

Unfortunately, by end-2017 just 7.5% of total electricity generated came from wind and solar.  (My data, based on IRENA's data  plus a variety of other sources, have a slightly lower number, 7%.) 

However, the growth in output from wind and solar is very high.  In 2002, just 0.34% of world electricity came from wind+solar.  By 2010, that had reached 1.79%, by end 2017, 7%.  Assuming ( for wind) that the last 5 years' growth in output, 16% per annum, is continued, and assuming solar ups its 5 year growth pace from 33% per annum to 40% (solar is now the cheapest source, and storage is plunging in cost) then, by 2020, wind+solar will be 10.24% of total electricity generation, by 2025 29.11% and by 2030 99%.  That assumes the growth in global electricity demand accelerates from the current 3-ish % per annum to 4.5% to allow for the increase in demand for electric cars/lorries/buses.  Of course, we still have to allow for hydro and legacy nuclear in the mix, so wind+solar will never reach 100%, and the growth rates in wind and solar will slow as we get closer to market saturation.  But the key point is that we will achieve zero (or near zero) emissions from electricity generation in 2030 or thereabouts.  Alas, by then, world temperatures will have risen another 0.2 degrees C.

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