Investments in clean energy could reach $630 billion by 2030 (but probably more)

Brightsource solar power project
© Brightsource

3,500GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030

A few weeks ago when SunTech announced its bankruptcy, I wrote about how it is very frequent for individual companies in world-changing, fast-growing industries to have a hard time making money, yet the products (in this case solar panels) still keep getting rapidly better and cheaper because of the intense competition. In short: Bad for shareholders, but good for society.

Wind farmUSFWS/Public Domain

A good example of this is that despite the recent financial difficulties of many individual companies operating in the clean energy industry, the industry as a whole seems to be even healthier than what we predicted a couple years ago:

Annual spending on clean-energy projects that don’t add to greenhouse-gas pollution may rise to $630 billion at the end of the next decade from $190 billion last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a report today. That’s 37 percent more than estimated in November 2011 and means renewables would account for half of all generation capacity by 2030. (source)

This would mean that renewables would account for between 69% and 74% of new power capacity added by 2030 worldwide, according to the BNEF. That would represent a total clean-energy installed capacity of 3,500GW.

And if we underestimated the rate of growth a couple years ago, maybe we're still underestimating it now. When solar power reaches parity with coal and gas and then goes even lower, and as wind power also keep getting cheaper, we could see a new kind of tipping point that could accelerate things even further.

Let's close on a great quote:

“The apocalyptic views about what it will cost to shift the world to renewable energy simply aren’t true,” Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of New Energy Finance, said in an interview. “Three years ago, we thought wind and solar would be cheap as chips, and they’ve even gone below that.”

Via BNEF, Bloomberg

See also: 300,000 mirrors: World's largest thermal solar plant (377MW) under construction in the Mojave

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