In January 2020, we identified 10 key trends in the energy sector and predicted where the world will be in 2030. Here’s our first year progress report…


1. Fossil fuels vehicles will be banned

In 2020, we predicted fossil fuels for transport would largely be banned by 2030. At the time Boris Johnson had just brought forward a ban on all new sales of petrol and diesel cars to 2035 from 2040. He has since moved that date to 2030. Across Europe it’s currently 2030. Norway is leading the way and bringing the ban forward to 2025.

It’s no surprise then that last year Norway also saw electric vehicles outsell fossil fuel vehicles for the first time ever. They are achieving this through tax and usage incentives. 

In the UK, while all vehicle sales dropped by 29% due to the pandemic, electric vehicle sales rose by a whopping 186%. 

We predict that more countries worldwide will adopt 2030 as the new target, and that consumer confidence in fossil fuel vehicles will collapse well before then.

Progress: rapid


2. ‘Clean oil’ will fail

Big oil’s attempts to clean up its image by going for carbon zero extraction by 2050 cannot get around the fact that using oil will never be emissions-free. We believe that political and consumer sentiment will push them down a different route. (See three.)

Progress: too early to say


3. Big oil will divert its resources into renewables


A recent Reuters report noted moves by oil giants to increase investment had picked up during 2020, citing “Fund managers are also heeding the call to scrutinise environmental, social and governance factors. Carbon-heavy investments are out; pure-play renewable energy is in.”

We predict that the pace of investment will pick up steadily, then rapidly increase towards the end of the decade as it becomes clear that government and public are fast shifting to renewables.

Progress: steady


4.  Crash in car ownership/rise of solar-charged EV


In 2020 we predicted that driverless car technology would cause a huge drop in individual car ownership. Car pooling and hiring would become more convenient, cheaper and lead to less congestion on the roads.

There have been setbacks. Uber and Addison Lee have shelved plans for Robotaxis in 2021, Ford has delayed introduction until at least 2022. They believe the promise of the technology but the complexities and challenges are greater than anticipated. This isn’t surprising. The technology has to be absolutely foolproof before public trust is gained.

However Apple, Tesla and Google are pushing ahead with the plans and we believe it’s only a matter of time before acceptance kicks in. By 2025 we think things will look very different.

Progress: Not in the fast lane yet, but slowly revving up

Simultaneously, we predicted a fast rise in EVs chargers powered by solar. Naked Solar have seen an encouraging rise in orders for charge points in new installations, but the fast growth around the world seems to be public chargers powered by solar, as a quick news survey reveals

Progress: moving in the right direction


5. Thorium reactors resurrected/Nuclear fusion still ‘just around the corner’. Er…maybe


The promise of clean nuclear power through the holy grail of fusion has been raised for decades. We’re still not there. But this decade it does look like we really are getting closer.

Progress: the jury’s still out

As for Thorium, a cleaner, safer, more stable fuel than Uranium, 2020 saw a significant rise in investment and government interest.

Progress: promising


6. Geothermal enters the mix

Geothermal, extraction of heat from under the Earth’s crust, has enormous potential in meeting our energy demands. However, until recently, it has been largely untapped. Last year we charted the recent growth in its use, and while it is still a nascent energy source, more and more projects are coming on board. Including right here in Cornwall, where green energy supplier, Ecotricity, recently struck the UK’s first ever deal with Geothermal Engineering’s United Downs project, to supply electricity to the grid.

Progress: encouraging


7. Fracking abandoned. Gas declines

If the new Biden administration successfully follows through on its promise to bring the U.S. electric grid to 100% zero-carbon resources by 2035, the shift from gas to renewables will accelerate. Here in the UK, the temporary fracking ban is still holding. We predict it will become permanent.

Progress: on track

8. Will domestic wind be a thing?


The market for ‘Small windpower’ ie domestic and small commercial wind turbines, is expected to nearly double worldwide according to the latest report by Reportlinker.

It’s still a small market at the moment, trailing some way behind solar, but the prospect of combining both wind and solar in your home to reach 100% energy independence, is becoming more viable by the day.

Progress: early days, but encouraging


9. With 100%+ solar (and maybe wind) energy independent households, electricity grids go ultra-local,  solar becomes compulsory on all new builds and green tariffs disappear.

Solar still isn’t compulsory on new builds, and currently there seem to be no plans by the UK government to make it so, which we believe is very short-sighted.  However, we still think it’s only a matter of time, and will happen before 2030.

Progress: so far, none

In the meantime, the push towards more local energy grids, and energy independence, continues strongly. New developments like the Tesla Energy Plan, via Octopus Energy are disrupting the market, offering consumers exceptional savings compared to using the Big Six utility companies. We expect this trend to grow rapidly over the next few years.

Progress: good


10. Threat of ‘energy wars’ will accelerate international investment in renewables.

A recent market report from City Wire, shows that UK investment in renewables is rising rapidly and set to double in the next five years.

In March 2020, renewables accounted for a record 47% of all UK energy generation. Worldwide, although the global pandemic saw figures drop for all energy consumption, the IEA reports an overall growth in renewable energy of 1%. Although this is small, we predict that 2021 will see a rebound in capacity, supply and investment.

Progress: disrupted but will soon be back on track


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