By 2040, zero-emission energy sources will make up 60% of installed capacity. Wind and solar will account for 64% of the 8.6 terawatts (trillion watts or TW) of new power capacity.
The "New Energy Outlook 2016" forecast charts a significantly lower track for global coal, gas and oil prices than it did a year ago. It now estimates that $7.8 trillion will be invested in renewables over the next quarter century, compared to $1.2 trillion for new coal plants -- largely in India and other Asian emerging markets.
Renewables will dominate in Europe, which will overtake the U.S. in zero-emission power generation. Wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy plants will generate 70% of Europe's power in 2040, up from 32% in 2015.
In the U.S., renewable energy's share will jump from 14% of energy production in 2015 to 44% in 2040. Energy generated from natural gas will slip from 33% to 31%.
"One conclusion that may surprise is that our forecast shows no golden age for gas, except in North America. As a global generation source, gas will be overtaken by renewables in 2027," Elena Giannakopoulou, senior energy economist on the report, said in a statement. "It will be 2037 before renewables overtake coal."
Electric vehicles drive up power demand, drive down battery prices
The electric vehicle boom will increase electricity demand by 2,701TWh (terawatt hours), or 8% of global electricity demand in 2040. EVs will will represent 35% of worldwide new light-duty vehicle sales that year, equivalent to 41 million cars, some 90 times the number that sold last year. Coinciding with skyrocketing EV sales, small-scale battery storage will grow to be a $250 billion market, Bloomberg said.
The rise of EVs will drive down the cost of lithium-ion batteries, making them increasingly attractive to be deployed alongside residential and commercial solar systems.
"We expect [the] total behind-the-meter energy storage to rise dramatically from around 400MWh [megawatt hours or million watt hours] today to nearly 760GWh [gigawatt hours or billion watt hours] in 2040," the report said.
The term "behind the meter" refers to energy use by households and businesses.
Burlington Electric Department Burlington, Vt. is one of a handful of U.S. cities that have already proclaimed 100% renewable energy use. Above is a 500kW solar array on the roof of the Burlington International Airport parking garage; it began commercial operation in February 2015.
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