Executive Briefings

Clean Energy Is Approaching a Tipping Point

The cost of renewables is plunging faster than forecasters anticipated just a few years ago as as technologies like gigantic wind turbines arrive on the market.

Clean Energy Is Approaching a Tipping Point

That's the conclusion of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, whose founder Michael Liebreich estimated that clean energy will reap 86 percent of the $10.2tr likely to be invested in power generation by 2040.

In a presentation to the research group's conference in London last week, Liebreich said technology that's slashing the costs of wind and solar farms makes it inevitable that clean energy will become more economical than fossil fuels for utilities in many places. The most visible advance is in the scale of wind turbines.

When it started collecting data in earnest in 2004, BNEF already could see a trend toward bigger machines in the wind industry that deliver more spark to the grid. The scale of those turbines will grow with models planned by Siemens AG and Vestas Wind Systems A/S that already are delivering ones with wing spans bigger than the Airbus A380 double-decker jetliner.

The promise of bigger machines early in the next decade prompted developers of offshore wind farms in Germany to promise electricity without subsidy on their next projects.

“One of the reasons those offshore wind costs have come down to be competitive without subsidies is because these turbines are absolute monsters,” Liebreich said. “Imagine a turbine with a tip height that’s higher than The Shard.’’

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That's the conclusion of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, whose founder Michael Liebreich estimated that clean energy will reap 86 percent of the $10.2tr likely to be invested in power generation by 2040.

In a presentation to the research group's conference in London last week, Liebreich said technology that's slashing the costs of wind and solar farms makes it inevitable that clean energy will become more economical than fossil fuels for utilities in many places. The most visible advance is in the scale of wind turbines.

When it started collecting data in earnest in 2004, BNEF already could see a trend toward bigger machines in the wind industry that deliver more spark to the grid. The scale of those turbines will grow with models planned by Siemens AG and Vestas Wind Systems A/S that already are delivering ones with wing spans bigger than the Airbus A380 double-decker jetliner.

The promise of bigger machines early in the next decade prompted developers of offshore wind farms in Germany to promise electricity without subsidy on their next projects.

“One of the reasons those offshore wind costs have come down to be competitive without subsidies is because these turbines are absolute monsters,” Liebreich said. “Imagine a turbine with a tip height that’s higher than The Shard.’’

Read Full Article

Clean Energy Is Approaching a Tipping Point