Heading into 2020 the energy industry has reached a tipping point where cost and scale of producing renewably sourced electricity is akin to fossil fuels. Thanks to their undeniable environmental credentials, renewables are well placed to overtake their outdated predecessor. With a sharp decline in coal and annual growth in wind and solar energy generation, renewable sources will be the mainstay of power production. Bloomberg NEF predict a bumper year for on-shore wind installations in 2020, while off-shore investment includes giga-watt scale projects for the UK. Bloomberg NEF also predicts a 14% growth in solar energy, and over $5 billion worth of renewable energy storage investment globally in 2020.
A very quantifiable and visible change in consumer behaviour away from fossil fuels towards electrification, is the development and production of electric transport. By the end of 2020, there should be 10 million EVs on the road globally, up from just 1 million in 2015. While China will remain the largest EV market, expectations are that 2020 will be a milestone year for EV sales across Europe, especially in the UK and Germany.
This decade should see unparalleled growth in alternative forms of EV transport, such as public transport, commercial fleets, taxis, shared mobility schemes, e-bikes and e-scooters. With the growth of EVs, comes growth in charging networks and battery storage innovations. One of the slowest aspects of EV tech has been in battery development, but 2020 and beyond should see steady improvements in cell chemistry, anode and cathode material, higher-yield fabrication processes. Economies of scale should help to see a reduction in cost for each battery by around 6-8% annually.
What are the more lofty predictions for the coming decade? Solar powered cars are often maligned in the industry (even Tesla's Elon Musk argued their inefficiency in 2017, but has since changed his view), yet they are now attracting serious investment. They include the 'Squad' with a two passenger capacity and limited range & speed, and the Light Year 'One', a long-range solar powered car with a reported range of 725km. Other models with integrated solar panels include the Toyota Prius, Tesla Cybertruck, Sono Sion and the Hyundai Sonata.
Autonomous driving is set for big investment with Toyota, Tesla and Peugeot leading the way and Baidu & Volvo teaming up in China to develop large scale AD technology. We will also see EVs take to the skies. With EasyJet predicting electric planes by 2030, and US based Wright Electric working on making short-term electric flights in the Middle East in the next twenty years, plans are well established for electric aviation. We may not need to wait that long as Israeli firm Eviation has revealed it's prototype for a 9 person all-electric passenger plane that it plans to release in 2022.
Climate change activism has aligned with technology further motivating energy producers and the automotive industry to harness the power of the planet's natural resources, rather than mining out it's finite resources.