Solar capacity is set for a 17-fold increase globally by 2050 owing to falling technology costs, particularly in battery energy storage, and a decline in the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE), according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). “The result will be renewables eating up more and more of the existing market for coal, gas and nuclear.”
Coal emerges as the biggest loser in the long run. Beaten on cost by wind and PV for bulk electricity generation, and batteries and gas for flexibility, the future electricity system will reorganise around cheap renewables – coal gets squeezed out. In addition, gas is expected to become increasingly used to provide back-up for renewables, as the market switches to a new form of baseload generation from wind, solar and batteries.