Shell predicts that solar may overtake oil by 2060


According to one scenario envisioned by Royal Dutch Shell, Solar could overtake oil as the world’s dominant energy source by 2060.

The oil giant said in a forecast on the energy sector’s changing landscape that 30 to 40% of the global energy mix can be made up by renewables by 2060 as oil loses its place as the world’s biggest energy source.

Although Shell’s rivals, ExxonMobil Corp. and BP Plc., also make periodic predictions on energy forecasts, Shell is the one who has the most optimistic view on the future of renewables.

In 2009, Shell abandoned plans to pursue renewable technologies and this makes the oil giant’s optimism on renewables more striking.

Shell’s solar estimate takes an industry boom into consideration that saw capacity growth to about 102 gigawatts in 2012. This data, which was compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, compares with a figure of 1 gigawatt in 2000, based on figures from the International Energy Agency.

With lower costs and state support, solar capacity may grow to 600 gigawatts in 2035. This is equivalent to more than 2 percent of power generation, a huge growth from a small fraction in 2010.

Shell also predicts that energy demand worldwide may double in the next 50 years on population growth and rising living standards. At the same time, it sees that carbon dioxide emissions could drop to near zero by 2100.

Shell says renewables may account for up to 40% of total energy demand by 2060; however, logistics and storage issues would need to be addressed not to limit uses of renewable energy.

Solar is currently the 13th largest energy source worldwide and in the high-growth scenario, it will likely emerge as the dominant energy source, displacing oil, gas and coal. By 2100, solar could account for up to 40% of all energy source, both within and outside OECD, according to Shell’s forecasts.

The figure outside OECD may continue to rise to 60% by the end of the century, which is in line with a growth in global electricity level. It is predicted that the generation level in 2100 will be 7 times bigger than that in 2012.


Back to News >