Anyone following the renewable energy and/or electric vehicle (EV) space has seen, heard and read about BNEF’s annual energy outlook released early this week and its progressive view about the future of renewables. We know, for example, that BNEF estimates:
But I thought it would be interesting to contrast these findings with Exxon’s Annual Energy Outlook, released in January of this year, and analysis released today from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), to get another version or vision of the renewable energy space. Exxon found that:
BNEF estimates fossil fuels will represent 44% of power demand, while Exxon’s number is 61%. Both analyses highlight the growth in and reliance on coal for India, with Exxon projecting a doubling of coal-fired generation between 2014-2040. EIA projects that natural gas- will exceed coal-fired electricity generation by 2022, while renewables (largely wind and solar) will overtake coal-fired generation by 2029. This shift will be accelerated by the Clean Power Plan (CPP), but even with no CPP, renewables will grow driven by Congress’s recent extension of favorable tax treatment for renewable energy sources (similar to Exxon’s view).
The chart below compares BNEF’s view of total capacity versus EIA’s expected net electricity generation. It’s not an exact comparison, but it is interesting to look at trends (at least as it respects the U.S.), including the precipitous decline of coal generation and the increase of renewables (a less bullish outlook from Exxon and EIA) whether or not there is a CPP. There is a clear difference in view over the role of natural gas and on this one, I’d bet on Exxon and EIA, though I think BNEF has a much better handle on solar and wind technology evolution, deployment and cost.
Why bother with any of this though? I’m a transport fuels expert not a power generation expert! Because I see this as a market share issue for fuel providers and car companies. We’re increasingly living in a world where the fuel/vehicle with the lowest low-carbon intensity (CI) will dominate, especially as the global momentum grows to decarbonize transport and countries begin to set stringent (or more stringent) policies.
As I showed last week with the recent Argonne study, EVs and hydrogen fuel cells reduce the most GHGs only with wind and solar as the power source. Without it, hybrid and conventional internal combustion engine gasoline vehicles with advanced biofuels (forest residues, pyrolysis) reduce the most GHGs followed by E85 from corn stover. The race is on.