Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will attract two-thirds of all investment in power-generating plants between 2016 and 2040 in spite of persistently cheap coal and gas prices, a new report has found. The forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the energy research unit of information company Bloomberg, expects some USD 7.8 trillion to be invested globally in renewables over the period, compared with USD 1.2 trillion for new coal plants – largely in India and other Asian emerging markets. Gas will attract a relatively small USD 892 billion, it said, despite a projected glut of the fuel leading to lower power generating costs.
“One conclusion that may surprise is that our forecast shows no golden age for gas, except in North America,” according to report co-author Elena Giannakopoulou. “As a global generation source, gas will be overtaken by renewables in 2027. It will be 2037 before renewables overtake coal,” she said. While good news for helping decarbonise the world’s electricity system, it is still not enough to meet the United Nations target to limit global warming below 2 degrees Centigrade. Another USD 5.3 trillion in zero-carbon power investment by 2040 is needed to prevent carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rising above the limit of 450 parts per million, the report says. Rising coal use in India and emerging Asia will push global carbon emissions five percent above 2015 levels by 2040, to 700 megatonnes, it said.
In China, weaker growth and a rebalancing of the economy away from heavy industry, as well as more renewables, will mean emissions peak by as early as 2025. For Europe renewables will dominate with a 70 percent share in the continent’s power mix by 2040, while the United States’ share will jump from 14 percent last year to 44 percent. A breakdown of renewable investments shows that of the USD 7.8 trillion overall, onshore and offshore wind accounts for USD 3.1 trillion, with solar taking USD 3.4 trillion and hydro-electric USD 911 billion.