Top 20 energy transition images 2021

Last week I tweeted some of my favourite graphs that I’d found elsewhere on the Twitter. They seem to make people smile. So I am re-posting them here:

That’s the most important one IMHO. Rate of doubling this century for the wind & solar power combo is proving to be pretty consistent at every 5 years.

Which, as we all know, means it’s all over in the 2030s. What!? Idiot. That cannot be correct. Except 10.5x2 = 21 in 2026, 21 begets 42 in the early ’30s (why, that’s the meaning of life)! And then with another doubling by the mid to late 2030s we’re at 84%. So almost all done, except that we’re going to build a much bigger electricity system, of course, per friends at RethinkX.

A simple representation of the way an insurgent service (based on better cheaper tech) displaces an incumbent service. Our lived experience with cell phones vs landlines is one example.

Why? Because it’s the most cost-effective thing to do. Build out the generation capacity to limit the required energy storage. We can debate the details and every geography is different due to weather but there is an optimum, which entails more electricity than before. That is not a problem — it’s awesome!

And these system dynamics mean that we’re well on our way to SFUN — solar for universal need. This graph needs to be updated but we’re close to the TW threshold — maybe be a little off track but within a year or two — and what’s amazing about that rate of doubling is we’ll do the next TW by 2027 or so.

I still cannot get over this one even though I’ve been extolling its virtues for over a decade. Next year VSPs (very serious people) are talking about a 200GW year for PV. Can you imagine!? I am betting 154GW is this year’s number. When did we last do a 50GW year in nukes? From scratch to built?!

How is this happening? You all know: the lowest cost provider of a service wins. And PV has been that for a while now for electricity. Cheaper than some operating coal & gas. And it’ll continue to get cheaper. 80% less this decade…

But you knew that. You may not have clocked how this curve, once dubbed the terrordome by a banker from Hong Kong, is being felt in other markets. I know you think this is Covid and it is (a bit) but I bet you that those curves never go back up. We may see a rise and plateau…

..but maybe not. More on that in a few graphs below. For now, it’s nice to see how this really is history in the making, not just headlines from some hippy hopeful. Case in point —the largest economy in the world, the US of A:

And another one from the country that brought us the steam-powered industrialization model, the UK (notice the X marking the spot of their move past nukes and coal and gas for lots of reasons historically especially cost but also Maggie Thatcher and the strong correlation of coal with Labor voters)

As most of you may know tho’, that’s all nice but largely academic since 👇

Therefore we have to win where people (especially the young ones with aspirations and rising incomes) are. But that might be OK because China, India and many nations in Asia are going through their own rapid energy transition. Did you know how dramatic PV uptake in Vietnam has been, e.g.?

Everything keeps changing so quickly, the IEA is revising their forecasts every six months and continue to be surprised at how much faster the uptake of renewables is happening (when will they learn?). I think they’ll be wrong again and particularly in SE Asia, where adoption of PV has only just begun.

We run incubators, accelerators and funds in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore and there’s a lot of amazing innovation there. Like this, which I think could be as game-changing as OSW (offshore wind to the wonks) for photovoltaics. Sea-mounted PV! Watch the video at http://sunseap.com

Thanks to dynamic markets on the other side of the Pacific in California and the energy internet in China, storage is coming faster than most expect. This may be the reason to believe no plateau for fossils (see graph above from BP). SWBatteries can do everything even the newest gas peaker can do but better!

Like this a few days ago here in my home, the Golden State of California.

And then of course there’s EV adoption. As soon as folk realize that electric vehicles are batteries on wheels, we have the storage to make the wind+solar bundle the winner. EVs will win their market for much the same reason, which is they are cheaper and better (especially total cost of ownership). See:

Nuff said about that by Elon-acolytes. But I’m not even talking about private cars as the big mover in the electrification of transport. I’m more interested in buses and 2 and 3 wheel platforms, which provide the vast bulk of vehicle miles travelled in those “markets that matter” in Asia.

China is pretty much where this phenomenon is happening. Cars, buses, bikes. Each month 20+ big batteries roll into garages of Chinese consumers to plug in behind the meter as Demand Response assets and soon V2B/ V2G (vehicle-to-building, like the Ford f150; vehicle-to-grid like Nuvve) assets. That’s not to mention bus fleets nor 10s of millions “other”…

We’re going to be glad China scaled the mass production of these things and that their near neighbours, like Vietnam, were avid consumers as we electrify everything, leveraging low-cost Lithium chemistry batteries. Thank you, China for a decade of front-running this as you did wind and solar…

Hopefully, we can use these trends to turn the wheel of creative destruction faster, harder. Thanks again to @rethink_x, BNEF, @GregorMacdonald & others from whom I’ve taken these to make my potted tour of 2021 thus far (apologies if I’ve misunderstood/represented anything).

And don’t worry it’s not like the work is done. It’s only just begun. While I think this is wrong on timing the relative emphasis is right — we need a massive uptick in deployment of the things we’ve got (SWB) and some new stuff soon thereafter. Follow @NewEnergyNexus to see diverse entrepreneurs make it happen! We’ve got a mountain of work to do this decade. Shine on!

Upstart supporter; Sungevity, Powerhouse, Mosaic, Sunergise, Powerhive; VoteSolar, Power 4 All, SolarPhilippines; CEO, New Energy Nexus and MD, CalCEF