Dave Elliott: Many global energy scenarios see renewables as expanding rapidly, with projections from the IRENA ranging past 50-60% by 2040 on the way to 80% or more of global electricity by 2050. Some even look to 100% by then. However, others offer slower expansion projections. One energy company thinks renewables will supply about 30% of global electricity by 2040, another 45%. Even so, a 50% share of electricity supply by around 2050 now seems an unexceptional global aim. Some countries can do much better than that. Several countries are already at well over 50% and, with generation costs falling, many others should be able to follow their lead. It may be worth noting that, according to an OECD/NEA report, between 2008 and 2015 renewable energy deployment “caused an electricity market price reduction of 24% in Germany and of 35% in Sweden”. While attaining high electricity contributions seems relatively straightforward, many countries have found it harder to meet heat and transport needs directly from renewables. Instead the main approach has been to try to use electricity for electric vehicles while, in some cases, the plan is to install electric heat pumps for domestic heating. However, rates of growth of renewable electricity have fallen in some countries. For example, the demise of Feed-In Tariffs across EuMark Jacobson of Stanford University, US, has released a revised chart from his upcoming new book 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for Everything, updating his earlier data, with global energy demand falling by 57.9% by 2050 due to fuel substitution and energy efficiency upgrades, and with renewables then meeting the residual demand in all sectors. With similarly positive news, IRENA has backed a study by the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation that includes a brave new global energy scenario, based on Shell data, with renewables accelerating exponentially to almost totally eclipse fossil fuels by 2100. In terms of winners and losers, the Commission said that “no country has put itself in a better position to become the world’s renewable energy superpower than China” and it warned that countries reliant on oil exports might lose out. rope has slowed deployment rates and China has throttled back on its very rapid PV expansion to reduce subsidy costs. The result of this, along with continued growth in energy demand in most countries, for transport use especially, is that emissions have risen — the switch to electric vehicles has not as yet had much impact. Although the use of coal for power production is being phased out in many countries, it is still expanding in some.
Physics World 27th March 2019 read more »