Solar power can outshine oil in a few decades – Shell

View of the Torresol Energy Gemasolar thermasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Sevilla. (AFP Photo / Cristina Quicler)

World demand for oil will reach its peak between 2035-2040, after which solar power or gas will take the lead a study by Royal Dutch Shell predicts.

After research into global energy prospects, Shell has come up with two possible scenarios called ‘Mountains’ and ‘Oceans’. The first one predicts slow international economic development and the markets largely controlled governments that will stimulate nuclear energy exploitation.

It also suggests that ecology-friendly natural gas will become the backbone of the world’s energy system substituting coal as the main fuel in electricity generation. In this case, there will be some changes in transportation, with trucks and cars largely powered by electricity and hydrogen, and CO2 emissions will be reduced.

The second forecast, ‘Oceans’, considers a more dynamic and ‘fluid’ global economy where reforms trigger a productivity growth and whose development will be determined largely by market forces and civil society, with a smaller role of government.

Energetically speaking, this scenario focuses on solar power that can become the dominant energy source overshadowing the traditional ones in 2060s-2070s as high energy prices unlock more expensive resources and technologies. Renewable energy could reach “60-70% saturation if the time horizon is extended still further,” Shell reported in its study. If this is the case, nuclear energy development will be restrained by the popular concern while coal will continue to be widely used in electricity generation, Shell experts predict.

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