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BloombergNEF: solar, wind, batteries to attract $10T to 2050; curbing emissions long-term will require other technologies

Deep declines in wind, solar and battery technology costs will result in a grid nearly half-powered by the two fast-growing renewable energy sources by 2050, according to the latest projections from BloombergNEF (BNEF). In its New Energy Outlook 2019 (NEO), BNEF sees these technologies ensuring that—at least until 2030—the power sector contributes its share toward keeping global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.


Global power generation mix. Source: BloombergNEF

Each year, NEO compares the costs of competing energy technologies through a levelized cost of energy analysis. This year, the report finds that, in approximately two-thirds of the world, wind or solar now represent the least expensive option for adding new power-generating capacity.

Electricity demand is set to increase 62%, resulting in global generating capacity almost tripling between 2018 and 2050. This will attract $13.3 trillion in new investment.

NEO starts by analyzing technology trends and fuel prices to build a least cost view of the changing electricity sector. The results show coal’s role in the global power mix falling from 37% today to 12% by 2050 while oil as a power-generating source is virtually eliminated. Wind and solar grow from 7% of generation today to 48% by 2050. The contributions of hydro, natural gas, and nuclear remain roughly level on a percentage basis.

Our power system analysis reinforces a key message from previous New Energy Outlooks—that solar photovoltaic modules, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries are set to continue on aggressive cost reduction curves, of 28%, 14% and 18% respectively for every doubling in global installed capacity. By 2030, the energy generated or stored and dispatched by these three technologies will undercut electricity generated by existing coal and gas plants almost everywhere.

—Matthias Kimmel, NEO 2019 lead analyst

The projected growth of renewables through 2030 indicates that many nations can follow a path for the next decade and a half that is compatible with keeping the increase in world temperatures to 2 degrees or less. They can do this without introducing additional direct subsidies for existing technologies such as solar and wind.

The days when direct supports such as feed-in tariffs are needed are coming to an end. Still, to achieve this level of transition and de-carbonization, other policy changes will be required—namely, the reforming of power markets to ensure wind, solar, and batteries are remunerated properly for their contributions to the grid. NEO is fundamentally policy-agnostic, but it does assume that markets operate rationally and fairly to allow lowest-cost providers to win.

—Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF

Europe will decarbonize its grid the fastest with 92% of its electricity supplied by renewables in 2050. Major Western European economies in particular are already on a trajectory to significantly decarbonize thanks to carbon pricing and strong policy support. The U.S., with its abundance of low-priced natural gas, and China, with its modern fleet of coal-fired plants, follow at a slower pace.

China sees its power sector emissions peaking in 2026, and then falling by more than half in the next 20 years. Asia’s electricity demand will more than double to 2050. At $5.8 trillion, the whole Asia Pacific region will account for almost half of all new capital spent globally to meet that rising demand. China and India together are a $4.3 trillion investment opportunity. The U.S. will see $1.1 trillion invested in new power capacity, with renewables more than doubling its generation share, to 43% in 2050.

The outlook for global emissions and keeping temperature increases to 2 degrees or less is mixed, according to this year’s NEO. On the one hand, the build-out of solar, wind and batteries will put the world on a path that is compatible with these objectives at least until 2030. On the other hand, a lot more will need to be done beyond that date to keep the world on that 2 degree path.

One reason is that wind and solar will be capable of reaching 80% of the electricity generation mix in a number of countries by mid-century, with the help of batteries, but going beyond that will be difficult and will require other technologies to play a part—with nuclear, biogas-to-power, green hydrogen-to-power and carbon capture and storage among the contenders.

Our analysis suggests that governments need to do two separate things: one is to ensure their markets are friendly to the expansion of low-cost wind, solar and batteries; and the other is to back research and early deployment of these other technologies so that they can be harnessed at scale from the 2030s onwards.

—BNEF’s NEO director, Seb Henbest

In NEO 2019, BNEF for the first time considers 100% electrification of road transport and the heating of residential buildings, leading to a significant expansion of power generation’s role.

Under such this projection, overall electricity demand would grow by a quarter compared to a future in which road transport and residential heat only electrify as far as assumed in the main NEO scenario. Total generation capacity in 2050 would have to be three times the size of what is installed today. Overall, electrifying heat and transport would lower economy-wide emissions, saving 126GtCO2 between 2018 and 2050.



These rosy projections of 90+% "renewable energy" are based on delusions and will not happen.  The more "renewables" you add, the greater the cost of dealing with their unreliability and the higher energy prices go.  This will eventually bankrupt any economy run by those foolish enough to try.

On top of that, RPSs fail to deliver their promised benefits.


I would like to hope that new nuclear power comes on strong as it is the only clean 24/7 power available. The only other chance is to keep the population under control which might happen with better education.


I fully agree with BNEF that REs (mainly solar and wind) will capture an increasing share of the clean energy market and that Hydro (due to saturation of the potential), CPPs and NPPs will continue going relatively down. NGPPs will however maintain a large share of the market for another 50+ years or until NG becomes rare and too costly.

Using solar to produce clean e-energy and storable H2 will become common place.


SD, have you not heard of geothermal, hydro, batteries with renewable energy?


The problem with renewables is that some days they are not there, so you need an alternative. These days, this means gas - and you'll have to be able to power 100% of the grid from gas for those days when there is no wind and no sun and your batteries are flat.
So it is certainly possible to get to say 70% wind+solar+battery, but you'll still have to keep 100 % gas coverage for the dull, still days, or runs of days.
So, it is possible, but it is NOT cheap as you'll have to keep full dispatchable coverage (read fossil, or fossil+hydro), in terms of plant and people to operate it.
Also, you'll probably want 80% coverage of both wind and Solar.
So you'll end up with 260% generating capacity, which will cost a lot.
I suppose it depends on the interest rate you are paying to fund all that plant.

SD, have you not heard of geothermal, hydro, batteries with renewable energy?

Paroway, do you actually know anything about them?

Average solar energy is measured in hundreds of watts per square meter.  Geothermal energy flux is measured in milliwatts per square meter.  There is nothing approaching enough geothermal potential to even beat where wind power is today in the USA, and none of it is east of the Mississippi.

Hydro is essentially maxed out in CONUS.  Lake Mead is so depleted it has almost fallen below the minimum operating level for hydropower.

And batteries?  Are you serious?  Try calculating the size and cost of the battery that will let you store your summer surpluses of PV power and run your house through the winter.

I know that you're lucky to get 300 kWh out of a ton of lithium-ion batteries.  I also know that you can get something like 1000 gigawatt-hours of heat out of just 1 ton of nuclear fuel.  This is why I am pro-nuclear:  I know the facts.


Independent of the environmental pollution that both, oil and nuclear, have caused, they are both limited resources. Presently, we are experiencing the results of oil with a temperature rise worldwide and all subsequent damages resulting from them.
Oil resources have passed their peak and it will become increasingly expensive to access those remaining and dwindling oil reserves. Nuclear fuels present their biggest problems as experienced in Chernobyl and Fukushima. Where are those thousands of tons of nuclear waste to be safely stored for the next millenniums?
How long will it take before nuclear resources begin to dwindle away like oil.
Humanity has been GREAT in wasting resources and energy. it's high time that we get started to stop wasting both. As long as profits soar for big business and political corruption prevails, there will never be an end to this waste.


By mid-century, EU, Japan, So-Korea, part of China, and many other countries (excluding most of Africa, So/Central-America, Russia, USA, Canada, Australia, and part of India which will remain with polluting fossil fuels) could effectively reach up to 90% REs and 10% Others.

Will Nuclear, with smaller mass produced transportable units, come back in great enough numbers to replace the current large older NPPs and polluting CPPs and NGPPs, is a good question?

Installing a mix of REs for 24/7 service operation will soon be solved with smarter grids, lower cost distributed storage units and greatly improved energy management systems to greatly reduce overall consumption and reduce peaks.

H2, electrolysers, storage, pipelines, FCs, FCEVs of all sizes will be fully integrated in the new energy systems based on clean 24/7 REs.

The world will not be short of clean lower cost energy but will learn how to use it more efficiently. Better built homes will be equipped with ultra high efficiency heat pumps for clim/heating, hot water, refrigeration, dryers, induction cooking etc to reduce energy consumption by 50% and more and allow the use of 2+ BEVs per family with less total extra e-energy and no fossil fuels usage .


As a long time proponent of nuclear power, I would love to see much of the heavy lifting done by small modular reactors.

As for renewables, the problem is storage and intermittency.

I don't know how much of the grid can be supplied assuming a lot of storage as hydrogen or other chemicals, but unless you do that we sure as heck can't do it without to a very high degree of penetration.

I am more optimistic than some on sequestration of CO2.

Here is the UK plan to use 'blue' hydrogen, generated from natural gas but with sequestration in depleted north sea gas fields:

Independent of the environmental pollution that both, oil and nuclear, have caused

List the pollution that nuclear has caused.  You can point to disasters from fossil fuels and mining; the Sudbury nickel smelter left a dead zone from the sulfur.  Chernobyl created a thriving wildlife preserve!

they are both limited resources.

Nuclear power is effectively UNlimited on the scale of modern civilization.  Uranium in the oceans is in equilibrium with the crust rock.  Even if it costs $250/kg to recover from ocean water, at a consumption rate of 1 ton/GW-yr (fast breeder) that is only 0.0029¢/kWh for fuel.

Presently, we are experiencing the results of oil with a temperature rise worldwide and all subsequent damages resulting from them.

And every bit of it is from coal, oil and gas.  None of it is from nuclear.

If you want a clean, stable planet, GO NUKES!


I have to agree with SAEP that a major part of the manmade pollution affecting the climate and the health of most living species comes from fossils fuels and most of their current uses and NOT from dying NPPs nor from fast growing REs.

Cattles create another major source (14.5%) and even more in countries with beef/milk/cheese/ice cream eating habits. Industries and cement factories create another (30+%) etc. Those pollution sources will have to be addressed.

Unfortunately, very few countries can afford the initial building cost of new NPPs. Even China, Japan, EU and USA are seriously looking for other sources of (more affordable) clean e-energy. REs with adequate storage seem to be the most economical avenue and are being built at a very high growing rate.

Over e-energy and fossil energy consumption is one of the major factor leading to the past-current dirty energy production units. Much better homes equipped with solar panels and very high effectiveness heat pumps for HVAC, hot water heating, dryers, inductive heaters etc could reduce residential consumption by over 50% and/or enough to supply e-energy for 2 or 3 family BEVs.

We could and should all do much more.


@ EP
I don't believe in taking unnecessary risks because they may have been minimized to avoid expected natural public reactions.
A natural radioactive dose plus in all other foods (fish, oysters, crawfisch, etc. etc.) adds up to an unhealthy dose among all other contaminants that we are bestowed with unknowingly and unwillingly.
Our math teacher in high school familiarized us with one of his favorite sayings: "Trust only those statistics that have been faked by yourself".


But at least coal is on the way out.
Nuclear is good in certain regions - needs lots of water.
Palo Verde plant west of Phoenix takes all of the phoenix waste water, treats it, uses it for cooling in the outer loop (inner loop is a closed system) and evaporates 95% of it into thin air. Only plant I know of that does it.
I'm happy that coal is going away.
Solar and wind, mostly wind, can still provide more energy than they are doing so now.
Economics are going to drive the grid cleaner - technology moves a lot faster than politicians.


You are right about the Arizona plant, thanks for posting.



I don't believe in taking unnecessary risks because they may have been minimized to avoid expected natural public reactions.

Who says there is ANY risk?  People have long bathed in certain hot springs because they noted the healthful effects thereof.  Those hot spring waters turned out to be radioactive.

A natural radioactive dose plus in all other foods (fish, oysters, crawfisch, etc. etc.) adds up to an unhealthy dose among all other contaminants that we are bestowed with unknowingly and unwillingly.

A Finn sarcastically asks for relocation for his countrymen because Finland is "dangerously radioactive" according to the standards set by the Japanese government for Fukushima exposures.

More seriously, a study of health outcomes in areas with different natural radiation backgrounds comes up with things like this:

"Tao et al 29] studied cancer mortality between 1979 and 1995 in the HNBR area of Yangjiang. They followed over 100 000 subjects for 19 years and observed 557 cancer deaths. The average annual effective dose (including internal dose) was reported to be 6.4 mSv. The population was subdivided into three cumulative dose groups based on annual dose rate in the area of their residence, and the risk was compared with that for those living in control areas. No increased cancer mortality risk was found to be associated with living in the HNBR areas when all cancer deaths were included (without restriction due to questionable diagnoses)....

A more recent analysis for the Yangjiang area was performed based on an extended followup of the cohort over 20 years [30]. Mortality rates from cancer were not observed to differ between HNBR areas and control areas in China over 20 years. There was also no association observed between cancer mortality and external radiation dose...."

And then there's the study of the results of the Co-60 exposures in Taiwan when a medical radiation source was recycled by error and incorporated into the steel structure of an apartment building.  From the paper (emphasis added):

"Abstract – The conventional approach for radiation protection is based on the ICRP’s linear, no threshold (LNT) model of radiation carcinogenesis, which implies that ionizing radiation is always harmful, no matter how small the dose. But a different approach can be derived from the observed health effects of the serendipitous contamination of 1700 apartments in Taiwan with cobalt-60 (T1/2 = 5.3 y). This experience indicates that chronic exposure of the whole body to low-dose-rate radiation, even accumulated to a high annual dose, may be beneficial to human health.
Approximately 10,000 people occupied these buildings and received an average radiation dose of 0.4 Sv, unknowingly, during a 9-20 year period. They did not suffer a higher incidence of cancer mortality, as the LNT theory would predict. On the contrary, the incidence of cancer deaths in this population was greatly reduced – to about 3 per cent of the incidence of spontaneous cancer death in the general Taiwan public. In addition, the incidence of congenital malformations was also reduced – to about 7 per cent of the incidence in the general public. These observations appear to be compatible with the radiation hormesis model.
Information about this Taiwan experience should be communicated to the public worldwide to help allay its fear of radiation and create a positive impression about important radiation applications.

I've considered reconstructing my bed so I could put bags of potassium chloride under the mattress to get the beneficial gamma exposure from decaying K-40.



Palo Verde plant west of Phoenix takes all of the phoenix waste water, treats it, uses it for cooling in the outer loop (inner loop is a closed system) and evaporates 95% of it into thin air. Only plant I know of that does it.

With a sufficiently high source temperature, evaporative cooling would not be required to get acceptable thermal efficiency even in a desert environment.  My preliminary calculations suggest that over 33% efficiency is achievable if source steam can be supplied at 900°F even if the heat sink temperature is 212°F (100 C).


@EP 20,000 gallons per minute per unit. 3 units = 60,000 gallons per minute

I recently took a tour. They like giving tours because at the end, one sees all the safety steps implemented, and you walk away feeling convinced that the nuclear waste is very small - you can see the small number of containers stored since day 1 of operation, and that the chance for an accident that would actually leak radiation is very small.

The article quoted 92% for Europe, while quoting 80% for some countries by 2050. I can believe the 80% for some countries, but Europe seems a stretch.

Fusion reactors could change the game.

While on the topic, a tesla power wall currently stores ~13 KWh. If all transportation is to go electric by then (which I think may happen even sooner), then there will be a lot of batteries sitting in people's garages with 50 to 75 KWh.

If those batteries can be tapped for storage, then most households will have quite a bit of potential storage at their disposal.

We are living in an era of rapid change, it is difficult to see around the curve when the progress isn't linear.


@ TM:
I'm fully with you and your diagnosis of the general situation. The rapid progress that has been made in recent years with the "Stellerator" fusion reactor fuels hope that success is lurking just around the corner. I'm sure that this reactor type will displace the "Tokomak" in the final run. Despite all the success in solar and wind power generation, far more emphasis must be placed on efficiency and waste-cut.



Dry cooling towers are available, but Palo Verde couldn't use them effectively because LWRs have too low a source temperature to achieve decent thermal efficiency at a high enough heat-sink temperature.  It takes something like a sodium-cooled or gas-cooled reactor to get hot enough.


Higher energy efficiency industries, farming, buildings, vehicles, appliances, residences could reduce current energy consumption by 50% and more at a much lower cost than 400 new large NPPs.

There are 1001 examples. New technologies can reduce energy required to refine aluminum by close to 80%. Recent low temperature heat pumps with SEER 30/32 can reduce energy required for heating/cooling residences/buildings, heating green houses and hot water heating by up to 50%. Induction heaters are 2 to 4 times more efficient than regular resistive cooking heaters/burners. Electrified vehicles can be 2 to 3 times more efficient than polluting ICEVs. New LED lights can be 15 times more efficient than incandescent units. Sealed coated triple glass windows/doors are 2 to 4 times more efficient than single glass units. Foam insulation is far superior to (pink) fiberglass, etc, etc.


AlzHarvey, do you ever get tired of spouting the same old greenwash or is every post a "cha-CHING!" in your bank account?  Are you supplementing your pension with a check written by people who get "renewable" subsidy money?

Higher energy efficiency industries, farming, buildings, vehicles, appliances, residences could reduce current energy consumption by 50% and more at a much lower cost than 400 new large NPPs.

Replacing all those industries, buildings, etc. is prohibitively expensive.  Even retrofitting them costs far more than the savings.

On top of this, 50% is a gross failure.  We need a MINIMUM of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions.  Even if you cut energy consumption by 50% and made half the remainder "renewable", you would still fall short.  Promoting "renewables" is measuring the wrong thing completely; you have to get rid of the GHGs.

Some are lucky to live somewhere that you can run on 80% or more hydro.  These areas are few and have only a few millions or tens of millions of people between them.  For everyone else, nuclear is the only solution that scales.


I fully disagree with SAEP. The best way to reduce GHGs is the reduction of energy consumption, specially energy produced with fossil/bio fuels.

The world is currently producing GHGs close to 7 tonnes/years per capital and the total is increasing every year as we consume more energy and drive larger ICEVs.

Some 71 countries produce more per capita GHGs than the world average. Some 15 countries, including Australia, Canada, Luxembourg and USA produce over 20 tonnes per year per capita. They are the world major culprits and also the world highest per capital energy consumers. Close to 50% of the energy consumed by those 15 major culprits is wasted and could be avoided. Less energy consumed per capita = less GHGs created per capita.

The other 113 countries consume less energy per capita than the world average and also produce less GHGs per capita. Countries in that group include, Latvia, Mexico, Chile, Portugal, Croatia, Romania, Thailand, Turkey, SWSEDEN, Brazil, Georgia, Egypt, Vietnam, INDIA, Pakistan, Philippines and many others.

Unfortunately, the world is consuming more and more energy and producing more GHGs per capita. Fossil fuels extraction, transport and refining , CPPs, NGPPs, ICEVs (all types and sizes), cement factories, cattle, domestic/company animals, climate changes and associated forest fires, volcanos, industries, HVACs, etc etc.

We are not doing (near) enough to reduce energy consumption.


@ HarveyD:
I can only endorse your disagreement. We're not doing only very little to reduce energy consumption we're doing next to nothing to cut energy waste.
E. g. new fridge combos use ca. 115 kWh per annum; old ones use double that amount (230 KWh). I've replaced ours. Not everyone is in a financial state to afford such replacements but there are plenty of people around who could and don't.
These "scrooges" cling to their old junk relentlessly. The power utilities don't care about efficiency and common sense; all they care about is to sell power to profit at a maximum.
The really intelligent portion of the population is interested in building NPPs and keep up the inefficiency and waste of all electric burdens on the grid.

E. g. new fridge combos use ca. 115 kWh per annum; old ones use double that amount (230 KWh). I've replaced ours. Not everyone is in a financial state to afford such replacements but there are plenty of people around who could and don't.

Ontario mid-peak electric rate is CDN0.094/kWh.  That's a difference of a whole $10.81/year.  (BTW, I suspect you mean "per month", because 115 kWh/year is only about 13 watts and there is no way that a refrigerator runs on so little power.)

These "scrooges" cling to their old junk relentlessly.

It's eminently sensible.  Paying $1500 to save even $11/month is a lousy deal, and you ignore that (a) the future savings have to be counted against the energy expended to build the new fridge, and (b) in Canada the electricity is almost certainly a lot cleaner than wherever those new fridges would be built.

But go ahead, buy that new box made in coal-burning Mexico, and fool yourself that you've made great strides for the environment.


Per annum is per annum and not per month. A fridge has a life expectancy of ca. 25 - 30 years. Do the math for that time period for cutting needless power; it's less the money more so power efficiency and as stated that is an example of countless more in the household and otherwise.
Droughts are increasing worldwide, crops are diminishing, and water is being rationed. I'd like to see you starting to nourish yourself on those saved green-backs. I'll spend you the pepper and salt when the time has arrived.
You must have spent a lot of time indulging in scientific and engineering subjects but spent to little time on philosophic matters.

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