Prof Ray Wills says 80% of world’s energy needs will be met through self-generated renewables by 2040

A WA academic and energy advisor has predicted that 80 per cent of the world’s energy will come from self-generated renewable energy, like rooftop solar, by as soon as 2040.

Ray Wills, adjunct professor at the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Western Australia, believes the “utility death spiral” is already well underway, and the new world energy order circa 2040 will see energy independence, via renewable energy and storage. Professor Wills, who will be a keynote speaker at the All-Energy Australia conference in Melbourne next week, says that by 2040 there will be very few coal fired power stations left and gas will also be starting to exit the market.

“In quarter of a century more than 80 percent of the world’s energy will come from self-generated renewables,” Wills will tell the conference. “Everything by way of energy generation and storage will be sitting on our rooftops and resting in our homes and businesses.”

“Not only will solar panels give us cheaper energy, but they also have the potential to deliver security of supply at times that we might otherwise experience disruption through disasters.”

And while key data released late last month suggests Australia’s large-scale renewable sector is in serious decline, due largely to unfavourable federal government policies, Wills says this is “merely an aberration that will prove to be irrelevant.”

Energy reform, says Wills, “is a tidal wave that will happen regardless”, as technology transforms the market from the outside.

“We should be engendering the change, supporting and growing it in a way that most benefits this country, but that’s not happening and ultimately it will cost us billions of dollars.

“The protectionist route will result in investment in infrastructure that supports the status quo instead of encouraging change for the better,” Wills said.

Professor Wills says that by 2020 the cost of energy will have started to tumble and be readily affordable to the vast majority of Australians, as solar and other renewables continue to mature.

He says while solar will become the dominant force, there will still be a place for wind and wave power, as well as bioenergy, but the key is more effective storage and greater energy efficiency.

Top image: Prof Ray Wills, via The Conversaion

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson