Over the last seven years, solar technology costs have fallen an astounding 85 percent. This, paired with the reduction in the cost of electric vehicles, could stop growth in demand for oil by 2020 worldwide.
A new report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker shows a potential dramatic reduction in polluting fuels. Experts predict polluting fuel may lose 10 percent share of the energy market within the next 10 years. This could be catastrophic for current energy companies. It only took 10 percent loss in market share to collapse the entire US coal industry. In Europe, five major utility companies lost $100 billion dollars after an 8 percent increase in renewables.
Solar Technology Underestimated
Unfortunately, large scale companies are refusing to change their way of thinking. They are subscribing to the “business as usual” mindset. Luke Sussams, a senior researcher at Carbon Tracker, said:
“Electric vehicles and solar power are gamechangers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates. Further innovation could make our scenarios look conservative in five years’ time, in which case the demand misread by companies will have been amplified even more.”
James Leaton, head of research at Carbon Tracker, added:
“There are a number of low-carbon technologies about to achieve critical mass decades before some companies expect.”
In the report, researchers predict that solar panels will supply 23 percent of global power by 2040, and 29 percent by 2050. This would completely phase out coal and leave only 1 percent of the market share for natural gas. While ExxonMobil has quite a different prediction. They see all renewables supplying just 11 percent of global power by 2040. Consequently, these are two very conflicting projections.
In addition to this, the Carbon Tracker report states that by 2035 electric vehicles will have 35 percent of the market, and 66 percent by 2050. However, B.P. only estimates 6 percent market share for electric cars. If this transition does indeed happen, electric cars will displace 25 million barrels of oil daily. Also, this would peak coal and oil consumption by 2020.
If the predictions from the report are correct, global average temperature rise is limited to between 2.4°C and 2.7°C by 2100. This is significantly lower than the business-as-usual trajectory towards 4°C, which is used by fossil fuel companies. Therefore, efforts must be made to align the energy industry with this more carbon-constrained trajectory. We do have the technology to make smarter, planet-friendly decisions.
Awareness Junkie created and published this article (Solar Technology: Anticipate the Unexpected) under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sabrina Mueller and AwarenessJunkie.com. You may re-post freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.