Power line length to triple by 2050 to accommodate renewable electricity

Installed power line length and capacity around the world will triple by 2050 to meet the growth in electrification and in new renewables, suggests a new report by DNV GL.

The company says ‘massive’ expansion is expected in the world’s electricity transmission and distribution systems, thanks to the rapid electrification of global energy demand and the rise of distributed energy from wind and solar sources, according to its
Energy Transition Outlook 2018: Power Supply and Use report.

The report predicts that electricity’s share of total global energy demand will more than double to 45% in 2050. Driving this increase will be ‘substantial’ electrification in the transport, buildings and manufacturing sectors. In the transport sector, the uptake of private electric vehicles (EVs) is forecast to escalate rapidly, with 50% of all new cars sold in 2025 in Europe expected to be EVs.  

The anticipated surge in global power demand
will be met largely by renewable sources, adds the report, which it says will account for an estimated 80% of global electricity production in 2050. Continued falling costs for wind and solar will see these two energy sources meet most of the electricity demand, with solar PV delivering 40% of electricity generation and wind energy 29%. Hydropower will be another key energy source.

Despite the positive outlook on the expansion of renewable energy and the rapid electrification of key sectors, the report warns that the energy transition will not be fast enough to meet global climate change targets. The first emission-free year will be 2090, if the energy transition continues at the pace predicted in DNV GL’s findings.

Ditlev Engel, CEO of DNV GL Energy Business, said: ‘If we are to decarbonise the world’s energy system at the required speed, we need to adapt and automate our electricity grids, and regulators and politicians will need to re-think, re-shape and take major policy decisions about market models.’

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