Our Amazing Clean Energy Future Has Arrived

Our Amazing Clean Energy Future Has Arrived

The evidence of a great green wave is now overwhelming. And it will only get better.

Its attention consumed by pandemics and politics, the world has overlooked an undeniable silver lining: the arrival of the green future. Almost without exception, renewable energy is now cheaper than that produced from fossil fuels. Prices of battery packs for electric vehicles and solar panels continue to plunge, and adoption is increasing exponentially. The 2020s will be the decade in which the planet finally closes the chapter on destruction and pollution by fossil fuels and enters a new realm of clean and nearly free energy. And this changes everything.

The evidence of a great green wave is now overwhelming. According to BloomergNEF, in 2020 the world spent half a trillion dollars on renewable power, electric vehicles, and other clean technologies and got a lot more for this investment than it ever used to. The average cost of lithium-ion battery packs, critical to electric vehicles, plunged from more than $1,100 per kilowatt-hour a decade ago to below $140 in 2020. Some factories in China dropped their prices below $100. Although lithium-ion battery prices are not on a Moore’s Law curve of decline, they are dropping at an inflation-adjusted rate of roughly 13 percent per year—halving over four years.

As the expanding market enables economies of scale, prices will continue to fall, and renewable energy adoption will increase. This will also accelerate the move to electric and hybrid vehicles, as is already occurring in China, Europe, and the United States. In Germany, the share of vehicles that use electricity (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric vehicles) soared from less than 3 percent in 2016 to nearly 25 percent in 2020. To be sure, this exponential adoption is still driven by generous government subsidies, but as the market continues to expand, that will soon no longer be necessary.