Electric vehicle (EV) and solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies will displace as much as 2.0 million barrels of oil per day by 2025 and grow to an astounding 25 million barrels of oil per day by 2050.
That’s according to a study produced in partnership between Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. They say that continued cost reductions through low-carbon technologies such as EV applications can displace demand for currently dominant fossil fuels and mitigate CO2 emissions. Luke Sussams, a senior researcher at Carbon Tracker, said, “Electric vehicles and solar power are game changers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates.” The authors also warn in “Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-carbon Technology” that their data is on the conservative side and the pace of innovation could be far greater than we imagine.
EVs are predicted to account for approximately 35% of the road transport market by 2035, and by 2050, for over two-thirds of the road transport market. This growth trajectory will displace approximately two million barrels of oil per day (mbd) in 2025 and 25mbd in 2050. The study also points to coal and oil demand peaking in 2020 with gas demand growth curtailed.
Moreover, solar PV could supply 23% of global power generation in 2040 and 29% by 2050. This would entirely phase out coal and leave natural gas with just a 1% market share. The analysis contradicts data that ExxonMobil uses, which sees all renewables supplying just 11% of global power generation by 2040. James Leaton, head of research at Carbon Tracker, notes, “There are a number of low-carbon technologies about to achieve critical mass decades before some companies expect.” The researchers warn that big energy companies are seriously underestimating low-carbon advances with a business-as-usual approach.
With significant data to back them, the researchers argue that many more efforts must be made to align with a carbon-constrained trajectory. They describe how technological advances have resulted in innovative manufacturing and less costly production methods. This has made end products in the electric vehicles as well as the solar and wind energy sector more affordable.
The path toward significantly reducing fossil fuel dependence through EVs is already underway. U.K. year-on-year growth hit 2.9 per cent to start 2017, with 174,564 new purchases, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. While diesel sales fell by 4.3 per cent, alternative fuel sales (including EVs and compressed natural gas) boomed by 19.9 per cent to reach a 4.2 per cent market share.