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Renewable power is defying the COVID-19 crisis

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Energy Global,


A new International Energy Agency (IEA) report says renewables will account for almost 90% of the increase in total power capacity worldwide in 2020 and will accelerate in 2021 to their fastest growth in the last six years.

According to a report from the IEA, renewable power is growing robustly around the world this year, contrasting with the sharp declines triggered by the COVID-19 crisis in many other parts of the energy sector such as oil, gas and coal.

Driven by China and the US, new additions of renewable power capacity worldwide will increase to a record level of almost 200 GW in 2020, IEA’s ‘Renewables 2020’ report forecasts. This rise – representing almost 90% of the total expansion in overall power capacity globally – is led by wind, hydropower and solar photovoltaic (PV). Wind and solar additions are set to jump by 30% in both the US and China as developers rush to take advantage of expiring incentives.

IEA predicts that even stronger growth is to come. Their report states that India and the EU will be the driving forces behind a record expansion of global renewable capacity additions of nearly 10% in 2021 – the fastest growth since 2015. This is the result of the commissioning of delayed projects where construction and supply chains were disrupted by the pandemic, and growth in markets where the pre-COVID-19 project pipeline was robust. India is expected to be the largest contributor to the renewables upswing in 2021, with the country’s annual additions doubling from 2020.

Over the first 10 months of 2020, China, India and the EU have driven auctioned renewable power capacity 15% higher worldwide than in the same period in 2019, showing expectations of strong demand for renewables over the medium and long term. At the same time, IEA remarks that shares of publicly listed renewable equipment manufacturers and project developers have been outperforming most major stock market indices and the overall energy sector. By October 2020, shares of solar companies worldwide had more than doubled in value from December 2019.

However, IEA suggest that policy makers still need to take steps to support the strong momentum behind renewables. In the report’s main forecast, the expiry of incentives in key markets and the resulting uncertainties lead to a small decline in renewables capacity additions in 2022. But if countries address these policy uncertainties in time, the report estimates that global solar PV and wind additions could each increase by a further 25% in 2022.

Critical factors influencing the pace of deployment will be policy decisions in key markets such as China, and effective support for rooftop solar PV, which has been impacted by the crisis as households and businesses reprioritised investments. Under favourable policy conditions, solar PV annual additions could reach a record level of 150 GW by 2022 – an increase of almost 40% in just three years.

According to IEA, the electricity generated by renewable technologies will increase by 7% globally in 2020, underpinned by the record new capacity additions, the company’s report estimates. This growth comes despite a 5% annual drop in global energy demand, the largest since the Second World War.

However, renewables outside the electricity sector are suffering from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Biofuels used in transport are set to experience their first annual decline in two decades, driven by the wider plunge in transport fuel demand in 2020 as well as lower fossil fuel prices reducing the economic attractiveness of biofuels. Demand for bioenergy in industry is also falling as a result of the wider drop in economic activity. The net result of these declines and the growth of renewable power is an expected overall increase of 1% in global renewable energy demand in 2020.

Renewable fuels for transport and industry are an area in particular need of potential policy support, as the sector has been severely hit by the demand shock caused by the crisis. More can and should be done, to support deployment and innovation in bioenergy to supply sustainable fuels for those sectors, the IEA states

The report’s outlook for the next five years sees cost reductions and sustained policy support continuing to drive strong growth in renewable power technologies. Total wind and solar PV capacity is on course to surpass natural gas in 2023 and coal in 2024. Driven by rapid cost declines, annual offshore wind additions are set to surge, accounting for one-fifth of the total wind market in 2025. The growing capacity will take the amount of renewable electricity produced globally to new heights.

To read IEA’s full report, click here.

Read the article online at: https://www.energyglobal.com/other-renewables/11112020/renewable-power-is-defying-the-covid-19-crisis/

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