Renewable energy set for surge in growth

By Francis Jay

Output from solar and wind on the up, but more must be done to meet sustainability targets

Electricity generated from renewable energy sources could match the output of coal-fired power stations within five years, according to new figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA’s Renewables 2019 report forecasts an increase in renewable capacity of 50 per cent between 2019 and 2024, with renewables growing from 26 per cent to 30 per cent as a share of worldwide power generation.

That would see renewables matching coal as the joint leading contributors to the global energy mix. The march of renewables will be driven by falling prices and “concerted government policy efforts,” the report states.

In 2018 renewable capacity topped 2,500 gigawatts (GW). The IEA predicts total capacity to reach close to 3,700 GW by 2024.

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Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a statement: “Renewables are already the world’s second largest source of electricity, but their deployment still needs to accelerate if we are to achieve long-term climate, air quality and energy access goals.”

Solar photovoltaic (PV) will account for much of the increase. The IEA predicts that the number of solar rooftop systems on homes will more than double to some 100 million by 2024, spurred by further reductions in the cost of generating electricity from solar PV. Onshore wind capacity is also likely to grow significantly over the period.

Despite these predictions, the IEA warned that the rate of expansion remains well below what is needed to meet global sustainable energy targets.

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