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29 July 2021

Doh! Palm to forehead as Bloomberg realizes Rethink is right

Bloomberg NEF came out with its New Energy Outlook document once again this week, the 2021 issue, and yet again it has totally changed its view on electric vehicles – citing 1.4 billion EVs on the road by 2040. It is almost an exact copy of our own numbers.

Previous Bloomberg estimates were under half of that, 480 million, then 540 million, then earlier in the year it came out with 600 million by 2040, and now later in 2021 it has more than doubled that figure. You cannot be serious!!

At Rethink Energy we think you pay for our forecasting services to be consistent, and only increase forecasts when circumstances change – as we did in an article last week when we cited a 58 million increase in EVs in Europe, which would result from the European Commission getting the Euro parliament to agree to its new plan in October this year, banning all new ICE vehicles across all European countries by 2035 as part of its “Fit for 55,” proposed policy changes.

That policy change will accelerate EVs in Europe to 116 million by 2035. But this 58 million bump will just continue to be additional to Electric Passenger vehicle numbers right through to 2050. We have identified all of this in our Look Back in Anger global energy forecast model, and this adjustment adds just 100 million EVs by 2050 to reach 1.6 billion EVs, leaving just 145 million ICE (internal combustion engine) passenger cars scattered around the planet, virtually stranded as the oil market founders.

ICE vehicles are so widely dispersed they represent an incredibly difficult logistics exercise to continue to reach with fuel and make up less than 10% of global passenger cars – which funnily enough is the number that Bloomberg is finally suggesting, after all these years, will be left in its forecast – mirroring ours.

Before the end of 2021 we will produce an adjustment for Look Back in Anger, which will have these minor modifications included, not the dramatic U-turn represented by the major US forecasting businesses, who were all enamored of the oil industry – S&P Global, Wood Mackenzie and BNEF – until very recently.

Bloomberg said in its report that there is a significant growth in EV sales and that by 2030 they reach 355 million passenger electric vehicles on the road. (Rethink Energy has always said that there will be 531 million, which will rise moderately once the European Commission rules change.

Bloomberg also gives itself 3 scenarios in its Outlook model so that it can have 3 separate guesses, the first it now calls Green, or the net-zero pathway; a Gray Scenario based around carbon-capture-and-storage (i.e. one where the oil companies win the war for hydrogen which they can’t) but it is still a zero emissions pathway. based around ‘blue’ rather than ‘Green’ hydrogen, with lots of bio-energy; and finally its Red Scenario more or less based on nuclear where ‘red hydrogen’ comes from hydrogen being delivered from cheap nighttime nuclear energy.

At Rethink Energy we are clear – carbon capture can only work in a tiny number of instances, where it is easy to isolate a pure CO2 stream, for instance from the manufacture of cement, and in all cases with thermal generation it fails on economic grounds. Nuclear is already entirely uneconomic, even when the state intervenes to subsidize Small Modular Reactors, and even old school large reactors – except in markets where there is no energy marketplace and it is a government monopoly. So we only forecast what we think will actually happen. It makes it easier, so you only have to deal with one set of numbers.

In the Bloomberg forecasts it expects road emissions to fall first and drop 11% by 2030, in residential and commercial buildings it will follow a linear trajectory, 16% down by 2030 and 58% by 2040 and says that sectors such as aviation, steel and cement will go slowest, as they are harder to abate. If Bloomberg actually had a discussion with the major steel or cement makers it would find out that those are connected to markets that need to decarbonize, like passenger cars and are already way ahead of home heat, home cooling and residential energy efficiency.

If you find yourself reaching to subscribe to Bloomberg, reach instead to Look Back in Anger on this page, saving yourself some money and many headaches.