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Study forecasts huge surge in electric vehicles in next 20 years


Use of electric vehicles could surge to account for around 35 per cent of the global road transport market over the next two decades and cause a drop in demand for fossil fuels, energy experts reported in Thursday.

Falling costs of electric vehicles and solar technology could mean forecasting models used by major energy companies are “seriously underestimating low-carbon advances,” according to analysis by financial think tank Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Institute for climate change at Imperial College London.

Electric vehicles are likely to account for some 35 per cent of the road transport market by 2035 and more than two-thirds of the market by 2050, the report said.

It said its expected growth trajectory would see electric vehicles displace some 2 million barrels of oil per day by 2025 – the same volume that caused an oil price collapse in 2014-15 – and 25 million barrels per day by 2050.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, including energy storage costs, could supply 23 per cent of global power generation by 2040 and 29 per cent by 2050, “entirely phasing out coal and leaving natural gas with just a 1-percent market share,” it said.

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Visitors view electric vehicles during the 13th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, September, 12, 2016. (Credit Image: © Zhang Ailin/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire)

“Electric vehicles and solar power are game-changers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates,” said Luke Sussams, a senior researcher at Carbon Tracker. Sussams said more innovations could even “make our scenarios look conservative in five years’ time.”

“Most low-carbon pathways analysis considers what needs to be done to meet ambitious climate targets like 2 degrees Celsius,” said Ajay Gambhir, a senior researcher at Imperial College, referring to the international target for limiting global warming this century.

“Here we’ve looked at what would happen to the global energy system and global temperature if the lowest-cost options are deployed, in light of the latest projections of PV and EV costs,” Gambhir said.

The forecast growth for solar PV and electric vehicle technology could help limit global warming to around 2.3 degrees Celcius by 2100, the study said.