Global Renewable Energy Investments to Reach $7.4 Trillion Through 2040

The fossil fuel - which in 2008 generated half of America's electricity - will see a steep decline in market share starting in the latter half of the next decade as closures of USA coal-fired power plants mount, according to BNEF's New Energy Outlook 2017 report published Thursday.

Wind and solar power capacity has been growing in the United States, accounting for an average of up to 7 percent of electricity in 2016. By 2040, solar and wind will make up 34 per cent of the globe's electricity generation, compared to just five per cent today. Among the top dozen states, only California and Arizona had more solar generation than wind in 2016.

In fact, if we look at new capacity added during the first quarter (which would not inherently have contributed to March's record generation figures), we see that Texas led the way with 724 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity, followed by Kansas with 481 MW.

While the trillions of dollars destined for clean power projects is a positive step for global emissions, BNEF says the major wind and power push will still not be enough to halt rising temperatures to within the two-degree target established at the Paris climate conference in 2015.

Global emissions projected to drop to 4% below 2016 levels.

Tri Global Energy's chairman and CEO John Billingsley said that the company will support NextEra in starting construction of the wind park once regulatory clearance is received.

"In 2016, unsubsidised new renewable power was cheaper than fossil fuels in over 30 countries and, by 2025, that will be the case in most countries around the world", he said.

Elsewhere, the report projects, coal use in Europe will fall by 87 percent by 2040. Gas-fired power sees $804 billion in new investment and 16% more capacity by 2040.

In the U.S., coal use will slump by 45% as old coal plants are retired and not replaced. A further $5.3 trillion investment in 3.9TW of zero-carbon capacity would be consistent with keeping the planet on a 2-degrees-C trajectory. In the Americas, however, where gas is plentiful and cheap, it plays a more central role, especially in the near term. Bloomberg predicts green energy will continue to grow in the US regardless of Trump's policies to boost fossil fuels.

Similarly, costs for onshore and offshore wind are also expected to fall over the next few years.

The agency said generation share of hydropower is forecast to be almost 8% in 2017 and 7% in 2018.

  • Zachary Reyes