BY: DUSTIN BATTY
The future looks bleak for the fossil fuel industry, according to a report recently released by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which was working with the Graham Institute at Imperial College London. Despite predictions by BP, ExxonMobil, and other gas and oil magnates that fossil fuels will continue to dominate the market, the Carbon Tracker report suggests that these predictions depend on unrealistic assumptions.
According to the ExxonMobil website, the corporation predicts that alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, and nuclear will only comprise 11 per cent of global power generation in the year 2040. They project that 77 per cent of power generation will still come from oil, natural gas, and coal. BP (formerly British Petroleum) predicts that electric vehicles will only increase to 6 per cent of the market share by 2035.
Major oil and gas companies predict a minimal growth of renewable energy with a stable growth of the fossil fuel industry.
The Carbon Tracker report, on the other hand, predicts a much greater role for alternative energy. It projects that solar photovoltaic (PV) energy alone will provide 23 percent of the world’s power by 2040, significantly higher than the 11 per cent from all alternative sources predicted by ExxonMobil. The report also claims that electric vehicles will hold 35 per cent of the market share in 2035, rather than the mere 6 per cent allotted by BP.
The Carbon Tracker Initiative predicts a sharp increase in renewable energy, with a particular focus on solar energy and electric vehicles.
The reason that the discrepancy between these predictions is so high is because the oil and gas companies are not taking into account new developments in solar PV and electric vehicle technology. In the past seven years, solar PV costs have dropped 85 per cent, and the Carbon Tracker report predicts a further decrease in cost of between 70 per cent and 80 per cent by 2050. Using these numbers, it predicts that oil, natural gas, and coal will be virtually removed from the power generation sector by that year.
The cost of developing electric vehicles is dropping at a rate similar to that of solar PV energy. The report notes that battery costs dropped 73 per cent in seven years, and they predict that the cost of electric vehicles will be comparable to those that use internal combustion engines by 2020, after which point electric vehicles will actually become cheaper than standard gas-powered cars. These new electric vehicles will apparently be able to travel 200-300 miles (320-480 km) per charge. The report predicts that electric vehicles will hold 69 per cent of the market share by 2050, while internal combustion engines will fall from the 99 per cent they currently have to only 13 per cent.
By the year 2050, fossil fuels are expected to play a negligible role in both the power generation and motor vehicle industries.
These huge reductions are not unreasonable, considering the fact that even a 10 per cent shift in the market share away from fossil fuels could cause them to collapse. This kind of loss has already occurred in the European Union, where an 8 per cent shift toward renewable power generation caused the five major European utilities companies to lose €100 billion—over a third of their value—between 2008 and 2013. According to the Carbon Tracker report, both solar PV and electric vehicles could take 10 per cent of their respective market shares in the next decade.
With stats like these, we can look forward to the erasure of carbon-heavy fossil fuels as a new road is paved for cleaner energy sources to take their place.