The next decade and a half will see renewable energy raise its share of European electricity generation capacity from 40% in 2012, to 60% in 2030, while the share of fossil-fuel sources such as coal and gas falls from 48% to 27%, according to a major report from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The report, BNEF 2030 Market Outlook, based on modelling of electricity market supply and demand, technology cost evolution and policy development in individual countries and regions, forecasts that 557GW of new renewable power capacity will come online in Europe by 2030.
In the same period, coal-fired capacity will shrink from 195GW to 125GW, as emission regulations bite and the cost-of-generation comparison shifts in favour of renewables, while gas-fired capacity increases but only modestly, from 257GW to 280GW.
Seb Henbest, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “Our research shows that further improvements in the economics of solar and wind will mean they are increasingly installed without subsidy in the years ahead. We expect Europe to invest nearly $1 trillion to increase its renewables capacity by 2030, with rooftop PV accounting for $339bn and onshore wind $250bn.
“Our model suggests that power demand in Europe will increase by only 9% between 2014 and 2030, as energy efficiency improvements take effect. This, and the growing cost advantage of wind and solar, will enable the continent to cut its power sector emissions from 1.3bn tonnes of CO2 in 2013 to 564m tonnes in 2030,” Henbest added.
The only major renewable power technology to remain subsidised in the 2020s will be offshore wind. The report predicts that Europe will add 64GW of offshore wind capacity between now and 2030, involving investment of $296bn, as governments continue to back it for energy security and industrial development reasons.
As far as individual countries are concerned, Germany is expected to see $171bn of investment in generation, with small-scale solar taking $69bn of that, offshore wind $70bn and onshore wind $18bn. The UK is forecast to invest $197bn, with offshore wind taking $89bn of that, small-scale solar $49bn and gas-fired capacity – installed partly for balancing purposes – taking $8bn.
Globally, Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects $7.7 trillion to be invested in new generating capacity by 2030, with 66% of that going on renewable technologies including hydro. Out of the $5.1 trillion to be spent on renewables, Asia-Pacific will account for $2.5 trillion, the Americas $816bn, Europe $967bn and the rest of the world including Middle East and Africa $818bn.
Fossil fuels will retain the biggest share of power generation by 2030 at 44%, albeit down from 64% in 2013. Some 1,073GW of new coal, gas and oil capacity worldwide will be added over the next 16 years, excluding replacement plant. The vast majority will be in developing countries seeking to meet the increased power demand that comes with industrialisation, and also to balance variable generation sources such as wind and solar. Solar PV and wind will increase their combined share of global generation from 3% last year to 16% in 2030.
Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented: “This country-by-country, technology-by-technology forecast of power market investment is more bullish on renewable energy’s future share of total generation than some of the other major forecasts, largely because we have a more bullish view of continuing cost reductions. What we are seeing is global CO2 emissions on track to stop growing by the end of next decade, with the peak only pushed back because of fast-growing developing countries, which continue adding fossil fuel capacity as well as renewables.”