Renewables investment set to triple by 2030

30th April, 2013

Analysts predict green energy will account for up to 74 per cent of new power capacity added by 2030 worldwide, despite current market difficulties

Annual investment in renewable energy technologies, such as wind turbines and solar panels, is likely to jump by 230 per cent by 2030 as the industry drives down costs and starts widespread deployment of baseload green technologies, such as biofuels.

That is the conclusion of a major new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) published yesterday, which forecasts future growth for the burgeoning green power market across three alternative scenarios.

The report's central scenario, dubbed 'the new normal', shows investment in new renewable energy assets will reach $630bn (412.6bn) a year in 2030, more than triple the investment seen by the industry in 2012.

This projected investment is also more than a third higher than that predicted by BNEF this time last year, while the prediction that total installed renewable energy capacity will hit 3,500GW by 2030 is 25 per cent higher than 2012's forecast. The increased optimism is primarily the result of growing evidence that core renewable energy technologies, such as solar and wind power, are seeing costs fall at such a rapid rate that they will be able to compete with fossil fuels on cost in the coming years.

BNEF's 'new normal' analysis predicts wind will account for 30 per cent of new capacity by 2030 and solar will take up 24 per cent as a result of reductions in technology costs. Global biofuel production, meanwhile, could increase by around 200 per cent from 120bn litres in 2012 to 370bn litres in 2030.
With large hydro projects also taken into account, BNEF believes renewables will account for between 69 per cent and 74 per cent of all new generation capacity added by 2030.

Guy Turner, head of economics and commodities for BNEF, said the report highlights the strong potential for continued growth in global renewable energy markets, despite a downturn in clean energy investment since 2011.

"Renewable technologies will form the anchor of new generating capacity additions, even under a less optimistic view of the world economy and policy choices," he said in a statement.

"The main driver for future growth of the renewable sector over this timeframe is a shift from policy support to falling costs and natural demand. Our work also highlights, however, the importance of planning for the integration of intermittent renewables into the grid and into power markets. This will require significant new investment in grid infrastructure, load management and storage technologies.

The other two scenarios mapped out by BNEF show different levels of growth in renewable energy demand. Under the 'barrier busting' scenario, capital requirements for renewable energy could reach $880bn a year by 2030. However, this would require a 22 per cent increase in investment in grid infrastructure such as smart grids, storage and demand response.

Under a more pessimistic 'traditional territory' scenario, renewable energy investment requirements are projected to be $470bn by 2030

This article first appeared on Business Green on 23rd April

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