Renewables Growth to Outpace Oil, Gas Through 2030, BP Says

Wind power, solar electricity and biofuels consumption will grow at a faster pace than demand for fossil fuels in the next 20 years as nations seek to meet rising energy needs without adding to carbon emissions, BP Plc said.

Global renewables consumption will rise 8.2 percent a year through 2030, outstripping the annual 2.1 percent gain for natural gas, the fastest-growing fossil fuel, BP said today in its annual outlook. Total energy demand for power, transport and heating is forecast to advance 1.6 percent a year.

“The growth of global energy consumption is increasingly being met by non-fossil fuels,” BP said. “Renewables, nuclear and hydro together account for 34 percent of the growth; this aggregate non-fossil contribution is, for the first time, larger than the contribution of any single fossil fuel.”

New investment in renewable energy rose to a record $260 billion last year from $243 billion in 2010, which was the first year that fresh money flowing into wind and solar generation topped funds for new oil-, coal- and gas-fired output, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Governments around the world have subsidized the expansion of cleaner power production to satisfy energy demand while curtailing polluting emissions.

“It is in the power sector where the greatest changes in the fuel mix are expected,” BP said. “Renewables, nuclear and hydroelectric should account for more than half the growth in power generation.”

Solar Exit

BP, Europe’s biggest oil producer after Royal Dutch Shell Plc, told staff last year it’s withdrawing from the solar power industry after 40 years because it’s no longer profitable. The company’s solar division will be wound down over several months, BP Solar Chief Executive Officer Mike Petrucci said in an internal letter in December.

The solar exit won’t affect BP’s other renewable-energy units, according to the company. BP has been expanding its biofuels business, and in September said it spent $96 million on two Brazilian sugar-cane processors.

Biofuels will account for about 7 percent of energy use for transport in 2030, BP said today. Biofuels and other renewables combined will make up about 6.3 percent of total energy consumption in 2030, up from 1.8 percent in 2010.

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