Over the past few decades, the emergence of new technologies such as cellular and smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smart home devices, coupled with decreasing cost and financing solutions of household appliances and entertainment products, is putting upward pressure on electricity demand. Even with established energy efficiency measures put in place, along with a growing number of customer-owned distributed, small-scale renewable energy projects such as residential and commercial solar rooftop systems, electricity demand continues to rise in certain global markets.
The establishment of the lithium battery supply chain to support a growing roster of mobile technologies has opened the gateway to the electrification of the transportation industry. Societies primarily focus on passenger vehicles but there is a tremendous opportunity to electrify all urban and industrial drive systems including passenger vehicles, scooters, delivery trucks, coaches, heavy-duty mass transit fleets, Yellow School Buses, airplanes, materials-handling vehicles and so on. The ability to remain connected and mobile has fundamentally been supported by lithium battery-based devices that are allowing society to be wire-free while also driving up demand for electricity. This is a clear macroeconomic trend that will continue to prevail in the coming decades.
Building sustainable and inclusive communities that incorporate the use of clean energy technologies and zero-emission transportation is becoming an increasingly pressing topic for urban planners. While the shift to electric drive has the immediate benefit of reducing ground-level emissions in urban centers, it is also important that those energy sources are themselves derived from a clean or renewable energy source such as Solar, wind, hydroelectric or natural gas amongst others.
European nations have already set bold targets as they position to move away from coal to cleaner and renewable energy sources. France has committed to ending coal energy production by 2022, Italy and Ireland by 2025, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and Finland by 2030. Germany is planning to shut down its remaining 84 coal-fired power plants by 2038. The impact is starting to spread throughout other regions of the world too, as Chile has announced it is planning to shut down 8 coal-fired power plants by 2024. The domino effect will likely continue on a global scale as cleaner energy sources become more cost-competitive than traditional production sources. Recently, Britain has moved to be the first G7 country to commit to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, a target requiring a big increase in low-carbon power and an even steeper reduction in fossil fuel use.
With many coal-generating stations expected to be shut down in America, Europe and other select regions of the world, it is without a doubt that financing the construction of these assets will become increasingly challenging. Over the next years, growth in coal-fired generation capacity may become muted due to the lack of new capital to finance such assets in the Western World.
As societies continue to demand more electricity in order to remain connected and mobile, as well as demonstrate the need to reduce emissions, these factors will stimulate the shift to electric vehicles and, at the same time, the demand for clean electricity will rise. Undoubtedly, clean and renewable energy generation is set to grow over the next 30 years, providing a pathway to a true zero-emission network of vehicles and reducing emissions in heavily populated urban regions.