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Renewable electricity generation will surge 40% by 2017 as technological innovation, rapid deployment and supportive policies underpin growth worldwide, creating a "virtuous cycle" of development and deployment, according to the IEA's first medium-term study of the global renewable power market.

Clean Power

IEA Forecasts 40% Growth in Renewable Power Generation in Next 5 Years

Renewable electricity generation will surge 40% by 2017 as technological innovation, rapid deployment and supportive policies underpin growth worldwide, creating a “virtuous cycle” of development and deployment, according to the IEA’s first medium-term study of the global renewable power market.


Power generation from renewable resources — hydropower, solar, wind and others — will increase more than 40% to nearly 6,400 terawatt-hours (TWh) over the next five years, roughly 1.5 times total electricity generation in the US, according to a new report from the International Energy Association (IEA).

Renewable electricity generation will expand by 1,840 TWh globally between 2011-2017, nearly 60% higher than the 1,160 TWh of renewable power capacity added between 2005-2011, according to IEA’s “Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012,” which marks the organization’s initial effort to measure and analyze renewable energy markets worldwide over the medium-term.


Creating a Virtuous Cycle

Emerging markets, as opposed to those in developed OECD member countries, will become the primary driver of growth in renewable power capacity over the course of the next five years, OECD forecasts. Expanding renewable power capacity in non-OECD countries will account for 2/3 of growth worldwide, as some 710 GW of new renewable electricty generation capacity is added. China alone will account for nearly 40% of this increase.

Growth in renewable power capacity will be broad-based, however, according to the OECD’s outlook, which also foresees “significant deployment” in the US, India, Germany, and Brazil.

It’s a combination of technological innovation, fast-track commercialization and supportive government policies that underlie and provide the foundation for the expansion OECD forecasts. Rapidly increasing energy demand — again, driven in the main by emerging markets — along with growing concerns and focus on energy security and environmental sustainability “are creating a virtuous cycle of improved global competition and cost reductions,” the OECD states in a press release.

“Renewable energy is expanding rapidly as technologies mature, with deployment transitioning from support-driven markets to new and potentially more competitive segments in many countries,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said during the report’s launch gathering.

“Given the emergence of a portfolio of renewable sources as a crucial pillar of the global energy mix, market stakeholders need a clear understanding of the major drivers and barriers to renewable deployment. Based on these factors, this report forecasts global renewable development and, in so doing, provides a key benchmark for both public and private decision makers.”

IEA’s report covers renewable energy generation and capacity for eight technologies in 15 key markets accounting for some 80% of renewable electricity generation over the ensuing five years: hydropower, bioenergy for power, onshore wind, offshore wind, solar photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), geothermal and ocean power. The focus of this initial medium-term study is electrical power, though thermal heating is also covered. Developments that may emerge in other important markets are also covered.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Hydropower continues to account for the majority of renewable generation and it registers the largest absolute growth (+730 TWh) of any single renewable technology over 2011-17, largely driven by non-OECD countries.
  • Non-hydropower renewable technologies continue to scale up quickly. Between 2011 and 2017, generation from these technologies increases by over 1 100 TWh, with growth equally split between OECD and non-OECD countries.
  • Onshore wind, bioenergy and solar PV see the largest increases, respectively, in generation after hydropower. Offshore wind and CSP grow quickly from low bases. Geothermal continues to develop in areas with good resources. Ocean technologies take important steps towards commercialization.

A copy of Ms. van der Hoeven’s remarks is available on-line, as is a presentation by Didier Houssin, OECD director of energy markets and security.

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I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.


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