Wind, solar power made strong gains in 2020: IEA

Renewable energy capacity grew at its fastest pace in this century in 2020, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday, raising its growth forecast for wind and solar energy for this year and the next.

According to the Paris-based energy watchdog, renewable energies were the only source of energy for which demand increased last year, with the Covid-19 blockages affecting the consumption of all other fuels, because government restrictions closed factories, stopped planes and kept people at home.

The increase in global renewable electricity capacity last year was 45% greater than the year before – the biggest jump since 1999 – with the emergence of wind and solar farms in the world’s major economies, the IEA said in a report. The 280 gigawatt increase in 2020 was partly driven by a rush to complete projects before government subsidies ended in China, the U.S. and Vietnam.

The IEA has raised its growth forecasts for 2021 and 2022 by about 25%, with an increase of 270 gigawatts of capacity expected this year and 280 gigawatts next year.

The growing demand for renewable energy comes as governments and companies around the world try to cut carbon emissions with the aim of limiting global warming. The Paris Agreement, which the Biden government rejoined in February, provides for the cut in emissions enough to keep temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“Wind and solar power are giving us more reason to be optimistic about our climate goals as they break record after record,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, adding that greater use of low-carbon electricity is necessary for the world to reach its carbon. – reduction targets.

While renewable energies are gaining ground, fossil fuels remain the dominant energy source in the world. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit global transport and industry, oil, natural gas and coal accounted for 81% of global energy consumption, says the IEA. This figure is expected to drop to 76% by 2030, although the increase in overall demand still means greater use of carbon-intensive energy. Carbon emissions have also returned from falling in 2020.

Still, the recent acceleration in renewable energy growth will outlast the pandemic, the IEA said. The agency classifies hydropower and bioenergy, as well as solar and wind, as renewable energies.

Some energy giants, including Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC, have signaled their intentions to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and invest in low-carbon energy.

The IEA expects solar energy to play a key role in expanding global renewable capacity, with additions in 2022 expected to be 50% higher than in 2019. It also predicts strong growth in wind energy over the next two years, albeit at a rate less than 2020.

However, the IEA said it expects new capacity in China – long a driver of global renewable energy growth – to stabilize with the end of government subsidies, despite Beijing’s promise to peak emissions of greenhouse gases. carbon before 2030.

The increase in investment in Europe, the USA, India and Latin America should more than offset any reduction in Chinese investment in renewable energy, the report said. The European Union plans to spend $ 1 trillion to reach its net carbon neutrality target by 2050.

The IEA assessment does not take into account the Biden government’s plan to halve carbon emissions by 2030 or its $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan – part of which aims to combat climate change. If approved, the bill “would boost a much stronger acceleration of the deployment of renewable energy after 2022,” said the IEA.