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Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think

Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast.

That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India.

The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.

“Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when than if,” said Seb Henbest, a researcher at BNEF in London and lead author of the report.

The report also found that through 2040:

  • China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
  • The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
  • At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices a practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently and spreading the use of electric cars.
  • Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that’s increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.

BNEF’s conclusions about renewables and their impact on fossil fuels are most dramatic. Electricity from photovoltaic panels costs almost a quarter of what it did in 2009 and is likely to fall another 66 percent by 2040. Onshore wind, which has dropped 30 percent in price in the past eight years, will fall another 47 percent by the end of BNEF’s forecast horizon.

That means even in places like China and India, which are rapidly installing coal plants, solar will start providing cheaper electricity as soon as the early 2020s.

“These tipping points are all happening earlier and we just can’t deny that this technology is getting cheaper than we previously thought,” said Henbest.

Coal will be the biggest victim, with 369 gigawatts of projects standing to be cancelled, according to BNEF. That’s about the entire generation capacity of Germany and Brazil combined.

Capacity of coal will plunge even in the U.S., where President Donald Trump is seeking to stimulate fossil fuels. BNEF expects the nation’s coal-power capacity in 2040 will be about half of what it is now after older plants come offline and are replaced by cheaper and less-polluting sources such as gas and renewables.

In Europe, capacity will fall by 87 percent as environmental laws boost the cost of burning fossil fuels. BNEF expects the world’s hunger for coal to abate starting around 2026 as governments work to reduce emissions in step with promises under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Beyond the term of a president, Donald Trump can’t change the structure of the global energy sector single-handedly,” said Henbest.

All told, the growth of zero-emission energy technologies means the industry will tackle pollution faster than generally accepted. While that will slow the pace of global warming, another $5.3 trillion of investment would be needed to bring enough generation capacity to keep temperature increases by the end of the century to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the report said.

The data suggest wind and solar are quickly becoming major sources of electricity, brushing aside perceptions that they’re too expensive to rival traditional fuels.

By 2040, wind and solar will make up almost half of the world’s installed generation capacity, up from just 12 percent now, and account for 34 percent of all the power generated, compared with 5 percent at the moment, BNEF concluded.


19 Comments on "Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think"

  1. Cloggie on Fri, 16th Jun 2017 11:58 pm is rapidly becoming one giant Good News Show lately.

    – Coal destroyed soon by solar and wind
    – Economic golden decades ahead
    – Trump presidency could function after all
    – Assad prevailing in Syria

    Still to be wished for:

    – Putin and Trump walking hand-in-hand in Yalta-Crimea
    – Clinton, Soros and McCain dropping dead

    Doomers are wrong on all counts and will become very depressed because of it.

    Apneaman will return to his former Dutch employer and will be selling parts of electric self-driving cars while saying “Yes Master” all day.

  2. Apneaman on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 12:19 am 

    My employer was a rich jew fuck tard, Brian Jessel and the two Dutch mechanics worked for him too. I already told you that twice before. I guess that’s what happens to the memory when you become a dinosaur near deaths door.

    Oh yeah clog, just getting bowled over by all the good news.

    Wildfires used to be rare in the Great Plains. They’ve more than tripled in 30 years

    Perhaps if you get a couple of million wind turbines they can blow the fires out?

  3. Apneaman on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 12:24 am 

    Clog, wind turbines are most assuredly the #1 concern in the US.

    Poor Americans Face Tough Choice: Food or Home: Harvard Study

    Inched out Ramen by a noodle.

  4. joe on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 1:20 am 

    Wind is very insecure. Wind will not last more than a couple of generations, if we adopt them instead of coal then a couple of wars would leave us without power, much like the way the canal system collapsed in Cambodia when the country fell into anarchy in the 70s/ups and made famine so much worse. Using wind is a sign of declinecand doom…..

  5. joe on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 1:21 am 


  6. Cloggie on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 3:30 am 

    Wind will not last more than a couple of generations

    Yeah wind is a finite resource and at some point we’ll arrive at Peak Wind. And don’t get me started on Peak Solar.

    Using wind is a sign of declinec and doom

    You are so right joe.

    My employer was a rich jew fuck tard, Brian Jessel and the two Dutch mechanics worked for him too. I already told you that twice before

    I only remember reading that you worked for Dutch people in a car setting and that they were good to you. I admit do not read most of your sensationalist girly weather reports, but if I enter:

    “ brian jessel apneaman”

    …I get zero results from the past. So it is probably a lie that you mentioned it. Prove me wrong.

    So you spend a part of your life serving the interests of the German car industry?

    “Jawohl Meister!”

    What I do remember is that you always tried to hide your ancestral roots. “Canadian” you said. Later you were a “6 foot Aryan” which shortly after was reduced to 5 feet. Davy remembered that you had mentioned Ukrainian roots. Finally in an emotional outburst of tribal chauvinism you revealed your true identity: Ukrainian Turk with a Talmud operating system in your brains.

  7. MASTERMIND on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 7:13 am 

    Just do a google search for “Solar Power Bankruptcy”. If you need a good laugh

  8. Kenz300 on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 9:46 am 

    Fossil fuels will become a bad investment as we go forward.

    Look how fast coal investors lost their money in the last few years.

  9. rockman on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 10:39 am 

    “…if we adopt them instead of coal then a couple of wars would leave us without power…”. Which is why Texas hasn’t reduced its coal burning CAPACITY despite developing world class wind power. And now large scale commercial solar is starting to ramp up fast. The positive: had not wind power boomed in Texas we would have built more coal/NG fired plants to meet our quickly growing electricity demand.

    So consider the second largest GHG source in the country is one of our power plants with 3 coal burners and 3 NG burners. And while NG is a viable option today due to low prices that preference will disappear if NG prices increase 3X as it did not too many years ago. Which is why the world’s largest CO2 requestion project from that power plant began operating earlier this year. Eventually that plant will be burning a lot more coal if it’s needed to make up for the intermittent nature of wind and solar.

    Texas, with a 100+ year reserve, will never abandon its coal burning CAPACITY.

  10. Sissyfuss on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 12:05 pm 

    Trump won’t let you kill coal. He loves his deplorables too much.

  11. rockman on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 2:41 pm 

    Sissy – “Trump won’t let you kill coal. He loves his deplorables too much.” Actually I suspect he enjoys the $BILLIONS in royalty collected from coal produced from govt lands even more. LOL. You are aware that about 40% of total US coal production comes from govt leases, right?. And about 80% of that from strip mines in Wyoming.

    President Obama certainly loved those coal $’s: US exports (mostly from govt leases out west) doubled during his control from 60 million stons in 2009 to 120 million stons in 2012.

    Hell, even our Native Americans were all for ripping up Mother Earth to make some $bucks: coal represented about 40% of fossil fuel sales (the single largest revenue source) from production on Indian lands.

    If the “greenest” POTUS in history and our Native Americans were all in favor of producing coal why wouldn’t President Trump just stick with BAU with respect to American coal production and export?

  12. Sissyfuss on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 5:00 pm 

    Mine was a political perspective, Rockabilly.
    Standing up for coal brought a lot of deplorable votes to T-Rumps side of the ledger. No, coal is not going anywhere and neither is the rising Keeling Curve. To infinity and beyond!

  13. Dr J on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 7:15 pm 

    Taxpayers can no longer subsidize obsolete industries like coal mining. Even farming must change and become profitable.

  14. ____________________________________________ on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 11:17 pm 

    Cloggie how many pounds unicorn shit skittles do you eat per day?

  15. rockman on Sat, 17th Jun 2017 11:18 pm 

    Dr J – “Taxpayers can no longer subsidize obsolete industries like coal mining.” Subsidize coal mining??? You seem to be unaware that US tax payers have received tens of $billions in royalties from federal lands as well as income taxes from mineral owners and coal companies over the years.

  16. Dooma on Sun, 18th Jun 2017 12:03 am 

    The FF industry is not going to go anywhere. Not without the mother of all fights anyway. As Rockman said in a different way, they are the best bribe people in the game except for maybe big Pharma.

    Now you have a president how was voted in on a platform of turning the environmental clock back many decades. It is going to be one hell of a fight.The EPA being first, thrown out of the bar window and to ‘don’t come back’

    Now the US has found this massive bonanza of FF’s and climate change ‘off the table why would they bother with windmills and shiny panels?

  17. Anonymouse on Sun, 18th Jun 2017 12:27 am 

    “You seem to be unaware that US tax payers have received tens of $billions in royalties from federal lands as well as income taxes from mineral owners and coal companies over the years.”

    Once again, narravtiveman chimes in with another of his (numerous) feel-good, all-is-well platitudes when it comes to endless benefits ‘taxpayers’ supposedly receive from uS extractive corporations.

    Except….. few of narrativemans feel-good quips stand up to even cursory scrutiny.



    To name a few.

    You see narrativeman, the simple fact is, uS extractive corporations not only rig and game the ‘system’ at every level, the damage the do is, in many cases greater(in dollar terms), than they generate in economic actively. We see this again and again with abandoned mines that cost far more to clean up and than they ever generated while they were actually operating. The ‘billions’ in royalties the uS govt ‘collects’, has to go right back into re-mediation and cleanup efforts in almost every instance. Its very easy in the uS to declare bankruptcy, operate a shell company, or simply bribe uS ‘lawmakers’ to leave you alone.

    Anyhow, fixed it up fer ya, you are welcome.

  18. Kenz300 on Tue, 20th Jun 2017 4:40 pm 

    Wind and solar with battery storage is a game changer.

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