The 20th Century saw an age where electricity was derived primarily from fossil fuels. By 2040, solar power is projected to become the primary source of electricity, and here are the reasons why:
The cost of producing solar energy is projected to fall significantly to the point where it will actually be cheaper than fossil fuel production, which is actually on the rise.
Rising Solar Investments
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the decreasing cost of solar energy will attract increased levels of investment. By 2040, $3.7 trillion will be poured into solar energy, which by then will have made up more than a third of new global energy capacity.
Independent Production Units
More households will be able to produce their own energy independently. BNEF estimates the number of rooftop solar installations to increase 17- fold. Small-scale rooftop solar power is projected to make up 13 percent of all electricity production.
Slowdown in Electricity Demand
You would imagine that the explosion in household devices meant an increase in the demand for electricity to power these devices, but in reality the opposite is true. Electricity consumption levels are expected to remain the same. In fact, according to BNEF, the next 25 years will only see an annual rise in electricity consumption by 1.8 percent, as opposed to 3 percent from 1990-2012. In OECD countries, electricity demand will actually be on the decline. Technological devices require energy efficiency, and this will reduce demand for electricity derived from fossil fuels.
Solar and Wind Will Outperform Gas
Wind power and unity scale solar will be cheaper to produce than even natural gas by 2023 and 2036 respectively. Despite the “fracking boom” in the US, the majority of energy production will be derived from wind and solar plants by 2040. Fossil fuel-derived energy production will decrease to 44 percent and much of it will come from ageing power plants that will prove too costly to shut down.
Furthermore, developing countries will be responsible for much of the electricity production derived from gas and coal.
Renewable energy sources like wind and solar is projected to receive two-thirds of the world’s spending on new power capacity (or approximately $8 trillion). Unfortunately, unless there is additional policy action by governments, there will continue to be a rise in carbon dioxide emissions. By 2040, the pollution levels will have increased by 13 percent.
Cost efficiency will ultimately determine the success of any given energy source regardless of its environmental impact. If alternative eco-friendly sources of energy such as solar and wind power can be produced at a cheaper rate than traditional fossil fuels, then it will be a win-win scenario for the planet both economically and environmentally.