Renewable energy grows strongly, with its share in global power markets increasing substantially.
In the ET scenario, renewables in power are the fastest growing energy source (7.6% p.a.), accounting for around two-thirds of the increase in global power generation, and becoming the single largest source of global power generation by 2040. See the Power page for a discussion of the outlook for global power markets.
Both wind and solar power grow rapidly – increasing by a factor of 5 and 10 respectively – accounting for broadly similar increments to global power. This rapid growth is aided by continuing pronounced falls in the costs of wind and solar power as they move down their learning curves.
The EU continues to lead the way in terms of the penetration of renewables, with the share of renewables in the EU power market increasing to over 50% by 2040. The challenge of managing the intermittency issues associated with this scale of renewables penetration increases towards the end of the Outlook.
The growth in renewable energy is dominated by the developing world, with China, India and Other Asia accounting for almost half of the growth in global renewable power generation.
Renewables are set to penetrate the global energy system more quickly than any fuel previously in history.
Historically, it has taken many decades for new fuels to penetrate the energy system. For example,it took almost 45 years for the share of oil to increase from 1% of world energy to 10% in late 1800s/early 1900s. For natural gas, it took over 50 years from the beginning of the 20th century.
This slow pace of change stems in large part from the capital intensity of the energy system. The global energy system is dominated by machines and buildings which are relatively long lived: cars tend to stay in the global car parc for over 10 years, power stations can operate for 30 years or more. These long lives act as a break on the pace at which new sources of energy can grow.
In the ET scenario, the share of renewables in world energy increases from 1% to 10% in around 25 years. This is far quicker than any fuel has ever penetrated the energy system in history.
In the Rapid transition scenario, the growth of renewables is even quicker, with the share increasing from 1% to 10% in just 15 years. Such rapid growth would be literally off-the-charts relative to anything seen in history.