BP’s annual Technology Outlook, released last week, shows that renewable energy is at least as competitive as fossil fuels in the current energy mix.
The report adds that the trend is such that onshore wind could become the most economical source of electricity within 30 years.
Despite the trend, coal power remains the largest source of global energy generation. There’s enough on hand, the report read, to keep the grid satiated for more than a century based on current demand.
“However, coal has the highest carbon content of any form of primary energy,” the report read. “Its share of energy is starting to fall, partly as a result of policies and preferences for lower-carbon fuels.”
At the same time, the cost of generating electricity from onshore wind power has dropped off 23 per cent, and dropped 73 per cent for solar photovoltaic, since 2010.
Contributing to the reduction in costs for wind power are ever taller wind turbines, longer rotor blades, and increasingly efficient control systems.
New advances for pioneering technologies like wind-capturing kites and bladeless turbines could facilitate more advances in efficiency, the report predicts.
“Onshore wind power looks set to become the most economical source of electricity by 2050,” the report read.
BP estimates the average cost for both onshore and offshore wind developments could decline by 19 per cent every time cumulative output doubles. For renewables in general, the International Energy Agency estimates electricity generation will increase by more than 30 percent by 2022.
The British energy company’s report mirrors forecasts outlined in January by the International Renewable Energy Agency. IRENA found that, by 2020, data show renewable power generation could be cheaper than fossil fuels in terms of cost per kilowatt-hour.
About half of the new utility-scale power on the grid last year in the United States, the world’s largest economy, came from renewables and most of that was in the fourth quarter.
BP’s group chief economist Spencer Dale said: “We are seeing growing competition between different energy sources, driven by abundant energy supplies, and continued improvements in energy efficiency.
“As the world learns to do more with less, demand for energy will be met by the most diverse fuels mix we have ever seen.”