Carbon Tracker: Abundant and Cheap Renewables

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There is enough cheap solar photovoltaic and wind power potential to satisfy the world's electricity needs a hundred times over, says Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) in a report out today. The world is on track in 2021 to record the second-largest annual greenhouse gas emission increase as fossil fuels underpin economic recovery after the energy-sapping lockdowns seen in 2020 due to Covid-19 containment measures (IOD Apr.20'21). The report, The Sky Is The Limit, finds "the collapse in renewable costs in the last three years means that half of this solar and wind technical potential now has economic potential, and by the end of the decade it will be over 90% of it." At a conservative growth rate of 15% per year, economic solar PV and wind power output in 2037 will provide more electricity than was consumed globally in 2019. In terms of total energy demand, assuming the same 15% growth rate per year, by 2044 annual wind and solar PV output would eclipse total energy demand seen in 2019. Wind and solar PV have grown in recent years at a rate of around 15%-20% in capacity terms, according to the CTI. CTI says the only real hurdle left is political will to turn the global economy away from fossils fuels, mainly oil, coal and gas.

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