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Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

Fueled by cheap battery costs, wind and solar power are poised to produce nearly 50% of the world's electricity by 2050, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Renewable energy is getting cheaper as its technologies reach greater economies of scale. Notable this year are the falling prices for batteries that store energy generated by the wind and sun, which have become cheaper and easier to implement than previously forecast.

The thing that caught us most off guard is battery prices coming down so much in the short term. You can only build so much wind and solar if you don’t have storage.
— BNEF head of policy analysis Ethan Zindler

Other big takeaways:

  • The average cost of a solar plant is due to fall by 71% by 2050.
  • Coal, which provides 38% of the energy supply worldwide today, will fall dramatically to 11% in 2050, even while holding strong in some countries.
  • Natural gas consumption for the power sector remains flat out to 2050.
  • Electric vehicles (mostly buses in China) are set to increase electricity demand significantly: nearly 10% by 2050.

What to watch:

  1. Significant breakthroughs could occur in other technologies, including carbon capture, fuel cells and nuclear reinvestments, all of which could impact the electricity mix, Zindler said. These technologies need more research, funding and better design before they could be deployed on a large scale, he added.
  2. Less glamorous, but also possible, is a significantly greater scale for existing renewables — namely wind and solar. Zindler said to watch out for a tipping point that is coming soon: when it becomes cheaper to build a new renewable plant than to maintain one running on fossil fuels.

Yes, but: Like all forward-looking studies, this report is inherently based upon unpredictable factors with the economy, politics and technological breakthroughs. BNEF is also often considered to be a bit more ambitious in its forecasts than other research entities.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."