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Renewable energy scales new heights...with more to follow

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

A report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) states that almost 90% of new electricity generated in 2020 will come from renewable sources. This trend is expected to continue and the report – Renewables 2020 – predicts that by 2025, renewables will be the largest source of electricity generation globally.

Coal will be displaced after a spell of 50 years as the world’s leading provider of power. At the forefront of the surge in renewable power capacity are the U.S. and China. In both of these countries, wind and solar power capacity has increased by 30%.

With Joe Biden about to become the next American president, the IEA’s prediction may even be improved upon. The President-Elect has committed his country’s return to the Paris Agreement which Donald Trump was so openly hostile to. Biden’s apposite soundbite during the presidential election campaign that he would “choose science over fiction” encapsulates what to expect from the new administration.

Meanwhile, India – hitherto something of a pariah in environmental circles – will see annual renewable additions almost double in 2021 from this year. This increase is partly due to a number of wind and solar projects becoming operational following construction and supply chain delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The outlook is also bright in the EU bloc where previously-approved solar and wind projects in France and Germany will come online. The EU’s 2030 climate & energy framework has set targets which will see power from renewables continue to grow through the next decade.

The IEA pointedly refers to how financial markets now view the renewable power sector: “Shares of publicly listed renewable equipment manufacturers and project developers have been outperforming most major stock market indices and the overall energy sector…thanks to expectations of healthy business growth”.

With another nod to changing perceptions, the report mentions how “major oil and gas companies’ investments in new renewable electricity capacity are expected to increase tenfold from 2020 to 2025”.

Having highlighted the funds contributed by private investors, the IEA implore governments to follow suit. Were policy makers to remove uncertainty over the incentives available in the renewables sector, the report says that global solar PV and wind additions could increase by a further 25% in 2022.

Disparities between the energy-related stimulus packages offered to various industries to recover from the economic ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic are seized upon with the transport sector under particular scrutiny. Globally, only two out of the 30 airlines receiving government support in response to the pandemic globally are bound by environmental conditions.

A timely report offering hope as well as astute advice deserves to be acted upon as the rescheduled and crucial UN climate summit – COP26 – is now less than a year away.


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