The latest report from the International Energy Agency — Renewables 2019 — claims the world will see a 50% increase in renewable energy between now and 2025 thanks to rapidly falling prices for solar and wind. “The world’s total renewable-based power capacity will grow by 50% between 2019 and 2024,” the IEA says in a press release.
“This increase of 1,200 gigawatts — equivalent to the current total power capacity of the United States — is driven by cost reductions and concerted government policy efforts. Solar PV accounts for 60% of the rise. The share of renewables in global power generation is set to rise from 26% today to 30% in 2024.” Distributed solar photovoltaic systems installed on commercial buildings, homes and in industry will make up nearly half of the increase in the solar PV market, the IEA report says.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, tells The Guardian, “This is a pivotal time for renewable energy. Technologies such as solar photovoltaics and wind are at the heart of transformations taking place across the global energy system. Their increasing deployment is crucial for efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution, and expand energy access. 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.”
Much of the growth in 2019 has been driven by solar PV, which has benefited from “rapid expansion in the European Union,” a stronger Indian market, and an “installation boom” in Vietnam, according to the report. Growth in the onshore wind sector is also cited as a contributing factor. The three main challenges to speeding up deployment of renewables are policy and regulatory uncertainty, high investment risks, and system integration of wind and solar PV, according to the report.
Just a few weeks ago, The Guardian reported the rapid rise of renewable energy could end the dominance of fossil fuels decades earlier than many industry analysts expect. For instance, a Wood Mackenzie study in August suggested the world would still get 85% of its energy from burning fossil fuels. If that forecast is accurate, we can all bend over and kiss our world goodbye.
The report from The Guardian is a ray of hope in a sea of gloom. But even if what it says turns out to be true, the Earth appears to have passed a tipping point and will continue to heat up even if carbon and methane emissions ceased entirely tomorrow. No way that’s going to happen. In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “So much to do and so little time.”