Industry Experts Believe In 70% Renewable Electricity By 2050

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A recent global research initiative conducted by DNV GL has concluded that more than 80% of global energy participants believe that the electricity system can be 70% renewable by 2050.

In fact, the research finds that almost half of those involved in the research believe that a 70% renewable energy grid is possible in the next 15 years.

But, as the report concludes, such a transition to primarily-renewable energy “is contingent upon three dynamics”: convergence, rebalancing, and expansion.

The report, Beyond Integration: Three dynamics reshaping renewables and the grid, was published by DNV GL, the world’s largest resource of independent energy experts, and surveyed over 1,600 energy sector participants from more than 70 countries to address “key questions on how to best move forward the integration of renewables into the global electricity grids to ensure the future of electricity.”

One of the primary catalysts for the report was DNV GL’s concern that “Renewables are too often conceived as something to be ‘integrated’ into status quo arrangement. A smarter approach is needed.”

The report surveyed over 1,600 people from 71 countries, seeking “views on a scenario in which renewables account for 70% of power sector generation.” Additionally, “to help interpret these findings, [DNV GL] spoke to senior industry executives from E.ON, TEPCO, DONG Energy, and NYISO to understand what the energy transition means for them.”

DNVGL-1The report findings were organized into three separate dynamics “which DNV GL sees reshaping not just electricity, but the entire energy sector.”

  1. Convergence – New economic metrics must converge the needs of policymakers and system operators
  2. Rebalancing – New rules are needed to rebalance the opportunities and challenges for developers and system operators
  3. Expansion – New entrepreneurial solutions will expand the electricity business into a true ‘internet of energy’

“DNV GL’s analysis of these findings concludes that the solution for a high renewables future demands a dramatic change in the industry’s approach to the integration of new technology,” said David Walker, CEO DNV GL-Energy. “We need to adopt more collaborative approaches and go beyond old metrics, beyond old rules and beyond old silos. A shift away from a paradigm in which renewables are considered a nuisance to be accommodated to one in which the true potential of renewables in balancing and securing grids is unlocked. The debate needs to move ‘beyond integration’. DNV GL is taking the broader view and opening that discussion.”

A Convergence of Metrics

DNVGL-2“One striking result from our survey is the degree of consensus among respondents about the likelihood of significant change to the power sector and the timescale on which people can believe it can happen,” wrote the authors of the report, as seen in the over-80% of respondents believing in a 70% renewable energy sector by 2050. But, respondents “stress that this is contingent on political leadership and affordability” — a cry we have heard time and time again. In fact, two thirds of respondents selected politicians and policy-makers as one of their top three most important groups to achieving a high renewable energy future.

Quoted in the report, the Head of Offshore Wind at an OEM went even further: “a transition to a low carbon economy is entirely dependent on government support.”


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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

Joshua S Hill has 4403 posts and counting. See all posts by Joshua S Hill

25 thoughts on “Industry Experts Believe In 70% Renewable Electricity By 2050

  • the energy experts forget Wall Street, and divestment investment highways.
    Oil has come down, coal has come down, the money is made with Solar and Wind Power and EV car, battery, storage, giga factories. Wall Street will go where the money is.
    FF has become a hazardous investment.
    Renewable is predictable, reliable, cashflow investment.

    • The only downside with renewables as a cashflow investment is that new technologies would make the new ones cheaper and cheaper so that the older installed technologies could become a liability, such in the case of leasing. Long term contracts would also become regrettable as they become too expensive of a source of energy. So they will have to review hard about the parallels of the computing industry when the personal computers and the computer chips became cheaper and cheaper.

      • Your analogy between energy investments to computers is and isn’t accurate.
        Just because a more efficient panel comes out the next year, it doesn’t change the fact that the solar farm of last year with the less efficient panels still has a power purchase agreement for the next 20-25 years for the energy they are producing. So the investment in that farm is secure.
        Also even with all of the developments in personal computers there are still some companies using main frame type computers for maintaining their data storage and internal networks. A company making a big enough investment plans on using that equipment for five or ten sometimes even twenty years. It doesn’t matter if something a little faster or a little better comes out the next year, the investment has been made and the company will keep on using the equipment in order to have their bottom line balance out.
        In the geek (IT) world their is still demand for programmers that can work with Cobalt or Fortran, because there are still companies using or transitioning from that old equipment.
        The energy world works the same way, investments and equipment are for the long term. It is great that more of the current investments are going towards renewable energy sources, but just because next year’s investment is in equipment that is a little better, doesn’t change the security of the investment in this year’s equipment.

        • If in fact newer stuff is considerably cheaper, that will generate pressure to renegotiate such contracts. The political system may not necessarily be able to resist demands from rate payers. Or if behind the meter generation plus storage becomes cheaper, final customers for the power from the PPA may defect.

          • I don’t know how a renegotiation of a PPA contract could be triggered.

            The buyer (utility) has agreed to purchase X MWh per year for X dollar per MWh for X years. The buyer is locked in, assuming the seller’s attorney wrote a good contract.

            We just saw Florida Power and Light purchase a coal plant with plans to shut it down in order to terminate the PPA. Perhaps a utility might buy an existing wind or solar farm if the owners liked the price. But the utility wouldn’t be able to force the sale.

          • If they are aided by corrupt politicians?

          • How would that work? Change corporate contracting laws?

          • Of course it is impossible to disagree with the radical change that would happen supposing all of the multiple ‘if’s’ you and Ms Meads propose.
            However that does not follow with what we have been seeing or even what has been proposed in the energy markets.
            Wind, solar, and electrochemical storage have been getting gradual improvements for multiple decades, and their is no one saying that this is going to change. Much the same as fossil fuel and hydro power generation have seen gradual improvements over the past century plus. Also I have not heard of any miracle technology that is able to supply electricity at drastically reduced costs from what is currently possible, have you?
            So maybe if some of your ‘if’s’ (excuse the poor grammar) were to happen, then it might be possible to go to court and fight the contracts that have been made with the current generation renewable energy producer’s.
            Or maybe much like we are seeing with the previous generation fossil fuel generators it will be necessary to make some sort of settlement over the money’s invested.
            Before it is possible to even start considering this situation though we need to get to where renewable energy is providing all of our energy needs, not just a small percentage, or we are going to destroy our environment and our societies.
            So with that imperative it would seem that renewable energy investments are going to be secure for the foreseeable future.

      • Then the investors better look and check very carefully who they give their money to, no? 😉
        At the moment they do and have to decide if they keep it in FF investments or if they go RE..

    • If PPAs are renegotiated downwards or signficant curtailment comes about, because maybe there is a supply/demand imbalance when renewables are really putting out), that would reduce returns on early renewables resources (i.e. cash flow from a solar or wind farm). While the technology may be a net win for society, will be be ae net win for the investors?

  • You cannot make accurate upper end projections on a emerging rapidly changing tech. Their are simply to many unknown variables, to many potentials for a game changing tech to emerge. 70% might be conservative estimate based simply on refining existing tech and accounting for economies of scale. I’m thinking cheap batteries and even cheaper solar will change everything.

    I’m trying to get range on is what Applied Materials is up to with economical micro fabrication of solid state batteries. Making batteries about micro-structure as well as chemistry may resolve the stubborn issues that hinder a chemistry exclusive approach. Solid state may negate chemical degradation and offer the low to null-maintenance solution everyone is hoping for. So even at thounds per Kwh this kinda battery will get a toehold in high end devices like wearable. From there it will migrate to larger and larger applications eventual to the grid level devices.

    • The fact that power generation from renewables gets cheaper and cheaper is a very accurate prediction of the future. One has to take advantage of this fact and consider it when doing long term contracts.

      • Yes renewable energy has been getting cheaper over the past fifty years if you just include solar and wind, or over the past century with the inclusion of hydro and geothermal. Also electrochemical storage has seen a gradual improvement over the past thirty to forty years.
        The same improvements have been gradually seen in fossil fuel or hydro energy production over the past century plus.
        This is why power purchase agreements are limited at anywhere from ten to thirty years.
        There is no improvement being suggested that is radical enough to change the contract law that has also served us for over a century to change these agreements.
        Utilities enter into these agreements because customers demand that power be supplied 24/7 to keep their lights on and devices working. While there is plenty of hype about the improvements to renewable energy sources, nothing radical enough to change these basic contracts between suppliers, utilities, and customers is going to happen or has even been proposed.

  • It’s very encouraging that 80% think we can convert to 70% renewables over the next 35 years. That pretty much assures that there are no technical roadblocks using today’s technology.

    Thirty-five years is a long, long time when it comes to technology. Think back to 1980 when there were only a few personal computers and they ran at breakneck speeds of about 8 MHz and stored 512 megs of data on floppy disks. Think how few people were working to make personal computers more than they were. About how most of the early computer companies failed.

    Now we have mature wind and solar manufacturing. Storage is about where PCs were in 1980, if not more advanced. We have thousands, probably tens of thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians working to produce better energy capture technology and storage. We’re spending billions of dollars to drive the technology faster.

    80% thinks 70% is achievable by 2050. I’ll bet it’s going to be 90% think 80% is achievable by 2050 in five years. And things will continue to speed up as we improve technology, develop our renewable and storage industries, and educate the decision makers.

    • You’re wrong about personal computers Bob. The oldest floppy disks of the PC was 360 KB in 5.25″ format. When the IBM PC XT came out, it was a whopping 10 MB of hard disk space and you were king of the nerds if you have one. So the 512 megs of data on floppy is really overstretching some memory.

      • Yep, 512 megs seems so small today that I didn’t even catch the KB/MB error.

        My first hard drive was 30 megs. Paid $3,600 in early 1980 dollars.

        I also paid over $12/watt for my first solar panel a few years later.

        • And none of these was being propelled by the global warming imperative.

          • Bet you never did any double entry bookkeeping or had to retype an entire page because of a work omission.

            That could make one pretty hot under the collar. PC adoption was driven by the local warming imperative.

  • It’s something of a tautology that the future depends on the policy environment. But there is a huge difference between a world in which renewables are expensive, and need government props tp grow, and one in which they are cheap, and the government’s problem is propping up the fossil and nuclear incumbents so that their capacity is still available as a reserve. Germany has already made this transition, except for offshore wind, and that will only take another five years.

  • It is definitely possible but it will require willpower. We have to set goals and achieve them. And we need to stress the non-climate change reasons for doing this in addition to the climate change reasons . . . cleaner air, less dependence on imported energy, job creation, reduced healthcare issues, a more resilient grid, etc.

    • Over the next 35 years most of today’s operating coal plants will wear out and need replacement. Renewable will be cheaper replacements.

      Continuing price decreases for wind and solar will mean that it will make economic sense for utilities to install a lot of wind and solar and avoid fuel costs for gas plants.

      Economics alone, will drive a lot of the transition.

      Cleaner air, lower health costs, jobs, etc. will be accelerators.

      • Well that is how it should be, but First Energy has a proposal in front of the PUCO, asking that ratepayers insure they make money with Davis Besse, and Sammis for the next 15 years whether they are competitive or not. Duke had something similar, but it was rejected.

        • Exelon tried to get subsidies for their reactors that have been losing money for the last 5+ years but were also turned down.

  • Obligatory complaint: please fix the title to say “70% Renewable Electricity”, like the article proper actually says.

  • Joshua,
    You’ve been coming out with a lot of good articles recently. Thank you!

    It says “70% by 2050” here, but at the same article says “70% by 2030”. The later being very impressive and not unrealistic imho. “70% by 2050” is unavoidable really. “70% by 2030” is something worth reading about!

    Since it says this in the text of the article above:
    “In fact, the research finds that almost half of those involved in the research believe that a 70% renewable energy grid is possible in the next 15 years.”
    I’m figuring there is a mistake in the title here …and lower down in the text here. It should be “by 2030” in both places.

    Zach, Can you or Joshua please correct here?

    Thanks, mike

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