There is a very good chance that within the next 20 or so years, the electricity storage problem will be licked. Effectively and efficiently.
- If so, then within the next 20-30 years, solar and wind power will be able to overcome their major obstacle: the storage of energy for times when electrical energy is in high demand and for times when production is otherwise not sufficient to satisfy the quantities demanded at the then current prices. Furthermore, once the storage problem is solved so that electricity can be stored at a low cost, there will added innovative activity to produce cheaper and better solar panels and wind-energy sources.
- If so, private uses of solar and wind power will become feasible all over, and not just in North America, but throughout the world.
- If this prediction is right, watch for oil and natural gas prices to sink, not rise.
- If this prediction is right, watch for nuclear energy plants to be re-mothballed.
Sure, some gas and coal-fired electricity plants will have to be kept operational, but that would only be as backups and to handle peak load problems. The bulk of our electricity will be provided via solar and wind energy.
And it won't be because the gubmnts subsidized solar panel installations now; it won't be because gubmnts subsidized hideous and hideously expensive wind farms now. It will be because once the storage problem is solved, buyers will rush into the market and producers will continue to develop better, more efficient products (as they do in EVERY field).
What about autos? There will be more electric cars, more electricity filling stations, and more hybrid cars as people make the transition. The transition will not be immediate and will be costly in some instances. (For example, the building I live in could not add plug-ins except at huge expense). Gasoline and gas-powered vehicles will not disappear, but they will diminish in popularity.
Farm implements and major equipment will be electric, powered from storage batteries that are recharged by electricity generated from solar (mostly) and some wind sources.
Instead of backup gasoline-powered electricity generators, people will keep backup batteries and electrical storage facilities.
Carbon footprints will become meaningless. Kyoto and Paris agreements about climate change will be amended to deal with other environmental, distributional, and political issues.
Middle eastern, Russian, Venezuelan, shale, Albertan, and other oil companies will struggle as will their economies, which have become overly dependent on the oil revenues and have not planned for the possible demise of oil as a major source of revenue.
Last year I opined that $37/barrel was too low for oil in the long run. Now I'm reconsidering that view.