A new report suggests that cheap solar power and electric cars could combine to halt the growth of fossil fuels in the next three years. Both technologies are being viewed as 'game-changers' and are currently being underestimated by the big energy providers, according to the Carbon Tracker report from Imperial College.
The research team behind the report found that electric vehicles could represent over a third of road vehicles by 2035, moving to two-thirds by 2050. Additionally, the falling costs of these vehicles, along with the plummeting costs of solar PV technologies, could mean that growth in demand for fossil fuels grinds to a halt by 2020.
This means that, within just ten years, polluting fossil fuels could see their market share contract by 10pc because of solar energy and clean electric cars. In this scenario, the 10pc market contraction would be enough to see America's coal mining industry collapse entirely, whilst the five biggest utility firms in Europe would lose £85 billion because no preparations had been made for an 8pc renewables increase.
Additionally, the study suggested that big energy firms were largely ignoring the transition to the low-carbon economy and were focusing on their 'business as usual' operations, which were predicated on the continuing growth of fossil fuels. As a result, their assets could become rapidly stranded as the energy landscape changes.
Emerging technologies, including electricity-generated printable solar PV, could further bring down already low costs and help to increase take-up at an unprecedented degree. The researchers believe that further innovation in the green energy field could even make the report's modelling scenarios look conservative in just five years.
The cost of solar energy has dropped by 85pc in the past seven years.