10 Energy Predictions for 2030
10 Energy Predictions for 2030
The Tipping Point Twenties are going to change much faster than we can imagine. Nowhere more so than in energy. Here are our top 10 predictions…
1. Fossil fuels will be banned.
Last week The Guardian became the first major news organisation to ban all advertising from fossil fuel extraction companies, in spite of the massive hit this will cause to its income. Fossil fuels are rapidly going to be seen as a dirty habit we need to kick, like smoking. Indeed, last week, Boris Johnson brought forward the ban on diesel and petrol cars to 2035. We think it will be much sooner than this. The consumer pressure against Big Oil is reaching a tipping point. Governments and companies will follow suit.
2. ‘Clean oil’ will fail.
The idea of clean oil is the last hurrah for fossil fuels. Norwegian oil giant Equinor recently announced it was investing billions in making their company go zero carbon by 2050. The elephant in the room is that they will be making the extraction of oil emissions free, not the use of it. Mark van Baal, the head of Dutch investor group Follow This put it beautifully. ‘An oil company with targets for its own emissions, and not for its products, is like a cigarette producer that promises all employees will quit smoking, while increasing cigarette production.’ It’s significant that investor sentiment is skeptical. Money talks. Investment anticipates and follows trends, then propels them to the mainstream. Which leads us to…
3. Big oil will divert its resources into renewables.
Sorry for the smoking analogy again, but what are the tobacco companies doing now? Massively investing in vaping, because smoking is a dying habit. OK, the ‘benefits’ of vaping are debatable but the moral of the story isn’t. As the pressure against fossil fuels becomes unbearable, global super-rich companies won’t just sit on their hands and go ‘The game’s up’. They’re energy experts – with oodles of cash. They will pour it into what the public and governments want – clean energy in the form of solar, wind, hydro, geothermal etc. They’ve dabbled for years, but now it’s really picking up pace. Take a look at this recent Bloomberg article Shell Leads Big Oil in the Race to Invest in Clean Energy.
Once this takes hold, the transformation will be rapid. The villain becomes the hero in the push to save the planet – (while making trillions in the process, of course)? It’s not as far-fetched as you think. Because if these companies don’t change, they’ll be joining the dinosaurs that they’ve been digging up for so long.
4. Crash in car ownership/rise of solar-charged EV.
Imagine texting for a driverless car that turns up in minutes and will take you anywhere you want to go. It’s quiet so you can work or play while you travel, and it’s so much better now there’s less traffic on the road. Accidents are almost a distant memory, and it costs a fraction of owning and running your own car. Sounds like a pipe dream, but solar-charged autonomous driver electric vehicles are being produced now. Take a look here.
Tesla also has fully autonomous capability and with wireless charging now as efficient as plugging in, you don’t need a human to start the car charging. We predict a massive rise in shared ownership of electric driverless vehicles, which will trigger a big decline (at least 50%) of private cars by 2030. By 2040 they’ll be almost eliminated. So your young children now may not ever have to learn to drive.
5. Thorium reactors resurrected/Nuclear fusion still ‘just around the corner’. Er…maybe.
This one’s a coin flip. Since the 1950s, the prospect of nuclear fusion has been heralded as the answer to the world’s energy problems. Unlike it’s counterpart nuclear fission, fusion promises clean, endless, no waste, no carbon, no possibility of a meltdown energy that could, in theory, end the world’s energy crisis. There’s only one problem, it’s incredibly hard to achieve and so far all attempts have resulted in much more energy going in, than coming out. However, great progress has been made and there are a number of government initiatives and private companies that say the first nuclear fusion reactors will be going live in the 2030s. If true, it will greatly help to cut CO2e. Renewable energy supporters are right to point out that by then it may all be too late. Besides we already have a nuclear fusion reactor that could provide all the energy we need. It’s called the sun.
(Increased private and public investment in Thorium reactors, first proposed in the 1960s but then abandoned, is worth keeping an eye on, too. Thorium promises much cleaner nuclear fission, safer energy than conventional reactors and the possibility of much smaller, localised power plants.)
6. Geothermal enters the mix.
The amount of heat within 10,000 meters of Earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than all the oil and natural gas resources in the world. Geothermal energy, capturing the heat from the magma, via hot air or steam, below the earth’s crust, has actually been around since the first power plant in Italy in 1911. In recent years, it’s seen significant growth (around 6%) in 2018 and looks set to leap forward as the technology advances. Many countries around the world are investing hugely in geothermal as It produces 99% less CO2e than fossil fuels.
7. Fracking abandoned. Gas declines.
Investment in fracking is set to fall 14% this year. We predict the UK’s current fracking moratorium will become permanent. There’s little public support currently and this is only going to fall further as renewables keep growing. Gas, an energy mainstay over the past century, is also on the way out. In the UK, from 2025, gas heating will be banned from all new homes. Cookers are currently exempt, but we suspect they will follow suit by 2030.
8. Will domestic wind be a thing?
An interesting prospect as we know that wind & solar make a perfect match in terms of delivering energy consistently when they’re used together. When it’s windy, it’s more likely to be cloudy, when it’s sunny, it’s less likely to be windy. IF a small effective wind generator could be attached to properties with solar, combined with storage would give the perfect solution to enable off grid living.
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.
We’ve already reached 90% independence from the utility companies using optimal solar panels, batteries, inverters and immersion diverters. Battery storage prices are also predicted to plummet. Already this has spurred the growth of local smart grids where small residential and business areas export their excess solar energy to each other locally. This is 50% more efficient than the mainly one way supply via the National Grid and it’s only going to rise in popularity. As this grows, it’s only a matter of time before solar panels on every new build becomes law. It’s shockingly short-sighted that this hasn’t already happened. But it will. Sooner rather than later.
Green tariffs will no longer be needed, because households will be able to provide all the energy they need. No further incentive necessary!
10. Threat of ‘energy wars’ will accelerate international investment in renewables.
There’s a theme here. We believe that the pressure towards adopting green energy is mounting rapidly. Governments and business react to pressure when it becomes unbearable. It’s in their interest. So far we’ve talked about pressure from the public. But what might tip it is the fear of energy blackmail on an international scale. Gas supply via pipelines from Russia into Europe has constantly been under threat over the last decade, with Ukraine in particular bearing the brunt. You don’t need to give in to blackmail if you’re energy self-sufficient. Arguably, this could lead to nations defensively pushing to extract as much of their gas, oil and coal. In some cases, this will probably happen. But we predict the majority of nations will look to the rapid advances in green and nuclear energy as the answer.