2021 Digital Industry Predictions: Where we are going
Posted by Ken Forster
2021 - A Look Ahead: Where we are going
Each year we look back, take stock of the present and look ahead at the technologies and trends likely to impact the way we work, the way businesses operate and the most exciting innovations ahead of us. As we look into the new decade, there are advances in technologies that enable powerful new innovations, changes in how we work and create, and changes in how we power growth and move about.
In this three-part series we explore “Foundational Technologies”, “How We Work” and “Where we are Going”. This blog post series will provide a high-level perspective and at the end of this series we will provide a more detailed 2021 outlook, exploring the implications of these critical trends in a broader context.
In Part 3 of our 2021 we explore Where We are Going – the rise of plentiful, cheap, and clean energy sources, the surging growth of Electric Vehicles displacing traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, and the exciting developments around the emerging space economy exemplified by companies like SpaceX. The future of clean energy is becoming ever more a reality as costs decline, promising economically viable alternatives to traditional carbon-based fuels. The accelerating activity in commercial space launches is paving the way for a new realm of exciting applications that promise to touch every part of the globe (and beyond). We explore the following themes in our Outlook:
1. Energy Gets Cleaner and Cheaper
The multi-decade transition from sole reliance on carbon based energy to a range of cleaner, cheaper and more sustainable sources of energy continued to progress in 2020. Solar energy continues to get cheaper, along with battery technology for storage, and the scope and scale of new installations continued to grow in 2020 – expected to accelerate in 2021. Solar price declines are based on the learning rate (costs decline as manufacturers and others in the supply chain gain efficiencies over time) and the cost declines have outpaced the most aggressive forecasts – meaning that by 2030-35, solar will be cheaper that even existing carbon fuel based power plants. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that Wind and PV Solar will grow to meet 56% of world electricity demand in 2050 – with some countries going as high as 70-80% before hitting economic limits.
2. New Transportation – The World Goes Electric
2021 is expected to be a breakout year for Electric Vehicles, with dozens of new models coming to market across the globe with offerings from nearly every major manufacturer. Morgan Stanley estimates that global electric-vehicle sales will grow 50% or more in 2021, while sales of internal combustion engine vehicles are expected to grow 2-5%. Global EV penetration is expected to be greater than 4% this year, rising to 31% by 2030. While the overall auto industry is expected to remain subdued at least for the next couple of years,the growth of EVs, declining cost and increasing performance make the transition away from Internal Combustion Engines one of the critical trends for the next decade.
3. The New Frontiers of Space Tech
Over the past few years, we have seen major breakthroughs in the space industry, with the formation of a new branch of the U.S. Military – the Space Force, successful launches of re-usable rockets from SpaceX, the first successful private sector manned space mission (also SpaceX to the International Space Station), and significant advances is satellite technology with low-cost hardware (CubeSats). Over 80% of the $423 billion global space economy is commercial, with over 1,000 commercial spacecraft launched to orbit in 2020. Morgan Stanley's Space Team estimates that the roughly $350 billion global space industry could grow over $1 trillion by 2040.
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