IEA director: Solar “on track” to be cheapest source of electricity

IEA director: Solar “on track” to be cheapest source of electricity

(January 16, 2018 –  Chron – Houston Chronicle – by James Osborne) – Fatih Birol is not one to get carried away.

As executive director of the International Energy Agency, his job is to essentially advise countries on the ebb and flow of energy supplies and where prices are headed. Hess CEO John Hess called him, “the world’s thought leader on energy.”

And Birol had a stark warning Tuesday for those questioning the ascendance of renewable energy, stating that solar energy was “on track” to become the cheapest source of electricity.

 “This has huge implication for solar and also competing fuels,” he said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “In some countries renewables do not need subsidies anymore.”

The rise of solar energy, Birol said, was part of a larger upheaval in the energy sector that stood to not only change how we get energy but the geopolitics surrounding it. Other factors he pointed to were:

1. The United States becoming the World’s leading oil and gas producer, shifting power away from the OPEC countries.

2. China committing to cleaning up air pollution, boosting demand for clean energy technology.

3. Electricity demand growing at twice the pace of overall energy demand, a boon for natural gas and renewables.

All together Birol painted a picture of the next decades as a period in which renewable capacity doubles and the role of oil in the world steadily shrinks – though he predicted demand for crude would grow, just at a slower rate to overall energy demand.

Such a though would have seemed impossible through most of the 20th century, when controlling the flow of oil was at the center of diplomatic and military action.

 “No government, no industry, not even citizen has the luxury of not following these changes,” he said. “Bad decisions may result in stranded assets.”