‘Self-Accelerating’ Renewables Market ‘Puts Laptops in the Shade’
Clean energy investment is still going strong, and can be expected to surge despite the continuing fossil fuel crash, Reuters reports, citing investors and industry analysts.
In contrast to the 2008/09 economic crash, when investors opted for inexpensive fossil fuels, “green power is [now] cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels and will buck the trend of falling investment in oil and gas, as it can offer long-term returns sheltered from political risk,” the news agency notes.
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“Fossil fuel technologies, no matter how efficient, will face greater and significant challenges,” said Hendrik Bourgeois, General Electric’s vice president for European affairs. Britain’s special representative for climate change, David King, described renewable energy side deals at the United Nations climate summit as “a self-accelerating process,” noting that “we are talking about the world’s biggest (new) market. It puts laptops into the shade. This market is going to be by 2020 between $2 and $3 trillion a year.”
Although natural gas producers are pushing to position their product as a lower-carbon alternative to coal, “improved technology means onshore wind is often the cheapest energy, with costs as low as US4¢/kWh, although offshore is still expensive at 10-22¢/kWh,” Felix and Lewis report, citing the International Renewable Energy Agency. “While oil and gas expenditure fell 20% last year, renewable investment rose, even as up-front capital costs—the only significant expenditure given wind and solar are free—keep falling.”