The IEA (International Energy Agency) released a statement today saying that is was drastically increasing its 5 year forecast for renewables, “thanks to strong policy support in key countries and sharp cost reductions.”
It was enthusiastically noted that renewables last year have surpassed coal to become the largest source of installed energy production in the world.
The report specifies that renewables are set to grow 13% more between 2015 to 2021 than last year due to stronger energy polices from countries like the United States, Mexico, India, and China. The forecast also shows that within that period, costs are expected to drop by a quarter in solar PV and 15 percent for onshore wind.
Last year was a turning point for renewables, with the Paris agreement in full swing, “wind and solar, renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world, reaching a record 153 Gigawatt (GW), 15% more than the previous year. Most of these gains were driven by record-level wind additions of 66 GW and solar PV additions of 49 GW. ”
Studies have shown that last year about a half a million solar panels were installed every day. While China, which accounted for about half the wind additions and 40% of all renewable capacity increases, two wind turbines were installed every hour in 2015.
“We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables and, as is the case with other fields, the center of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.
There are many reasons that are attributing to this remarkable renewable energy boom: more competition, enhanced policy support in key markets, and technology improvements. Climate change mitigation is also a powerful driver for renewables, so it is great that there is visible action in the sector.
is imperative that many countries focus on cutting deadly air pollution and diversifying energy supplies to improve energy security and to play an equally strong role in growing low-carbon energy sources, especially in emerging Asia.
Over the next five years, renewables will remain the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, with their share growing to 28% in 2021 from 23% in 2015.
Renewables are projected to cover over 60% of the increase in world electricity generation over the medium term, rapidly closing the gap with coal. Generation from renewables is expected to exceed 7600 TWh by 2021 — equivalent to the total electricity generation of the United States and the European Union put together today.
2015 was an exceptional year, but there are still some uncertainties. Policy uncertainty persists in too many countries, slowing down the pace of investments. Old outdated energy companies are lobbying against change, making renewable efforts more difficult to achieve. Rapid progress in variable renewables such as wind and solar PV is also exacerbating system integration issues in a number of markets; and the cost of financing remains a barrier in many developing countries.
The IEA also sees a two-speed world for renewable electricity over the next five years. While Asia takes the lead in renewable growth, this only covers a portion of the region’s fast-paced rise in electricity demand. China alone is responsible for 40% of global renewable power growth, but that represents only half of the country’s electricity demand increase.
This is in sharp contrast with the European Union, Japan and the United States where additional renewable generation will outpace electricity demand growth between 2015 and 2021.
The IEA report identifies a number of policy and market frameworks that would boost renewable capacity growth by almost 30% in the next five years, leading to an annual market of around 200 GW by 2020. This accelerated growth would put the world on a firmer path to meeting long-term climate goals.
It is amazing to see that last year was one of the best years for renewables, the projections for the coming years are very optimistic, However, even these higher expectations remain modest compared with the huge untapped potential of renewables. Hopefully the trend continues and we can see the world fully transitions to sustainable power.