Overlooked factors in predicting the transition to clean electricity
Martin, Nick; Madrid-López, Cristina; Villalba-Méndez, Gara; Talens-Peiró, Laura
OPEN ACCESS at Environmental Research: Research and Sustainability (2022), 2 (2), 021005 The transition to clean energy will require significant increases in electricity sourced from […]
The transition to clean energy will require significant increases in electricity sourced from renewable energy technologies. While wind and solar photovoltaic sources are generally expected to overtake hydropower to dominate the renewable electricity supply market, numerous other technologies vie for a share in this rapidly evolving arena. To date, predicting the emergence of different technologies has relied on large-scale energy models that employ simplified optimisations of economic and emissions reductions outcomes. This is problematic as many additional factors, largely underrepresented in current models, are likely to co-determine technological emergence storylines in the real world. Here, we present a summary of the best available information for five key factors as they apply to the seven most common renewable electricity technology categories. The findings suggest that wind and solar photovoltaic technologies remain the most likely to dominate the market going forward but could face considerable raw material supply risk issues. Other potentially more desirable alternatives exist but face their own geographic and environmental limitations. Ultimately, the study demonstrates the potential and importance of expanding the use of other relevant factors in the forecasting of energy transition pathways and in the field of energy modelling as a whole.