The global energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine has “triggered an unprecedented momentum” for renewable energy, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency.
The IEA has forecast that global renewable energy capacity will increase by 2,400 gigawatts between 2022 and 2027, an 85% jump from the growth rate of the past five years. Renewables will overtake coal as the world’s number one source of electricity by 2025, according to the report.
The five-year growth forecast for renewables is 30% higher than the IEA projected in last year’s report, marking the “biggest upward revision ever by the group”, says The report.
The shift “is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a statement.
Rising fossil fuel prices and worries about energy supply disruptions are driving the acceleration of wind, solar and other renewables, the IEA analysts wrote.
According to Pierpaolo Cazzola, a global fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, growth in renewables is expected to be “robust” in Europe and beyond, even if fossil fuel prices begin to fall or fluctuate.
“Even if fossil fuel prices were to fall, Europe would remain exposed to a need for imports, coupled with price volatility. Europe will therefore continue to have a structural interest in electrifying and increasing its reliance on locally produced renewables,” Cazzola said in an email.
According to IEA forecasts, solar and wind power will account for the majority of renewable energy expansion between 2022 and 2027.
“Green” hydrogen – produced through a water splitting process powered by renewables – will become a driver of wind and solar power expansion, accounting for around 2% of renewable capacity growth, said the IEA.
According to the report, solar energy remains the most economical option for new electricity generation in most of the world. Solar alone accounts for more than 60% of projected renewable energy capacity expansion each year over the next five years and is expected to overtake coal in installations by 2027, the IEA said. .
According to Heymi Bahar, senior renewable energy analyst at the IEA, permitting times for wind projects are lagging behind those for solar projects in many parts of the world.
“Furthermore, the social acceptance of wind compared to solar is significantly lower, which makes such investments more complicated,” Bahar said during a press briefing on Thursday.
The world could further accelerate the growth of renewables by taking steps to expand grid infrastructure, addressing policy uncertainty, enabling challenges and securing funding for projects in developing countries, according to The report.
At the press conference, Birol said Europe has yet to “exploit” the potential of renewables to replace Russian gas. The IEA will publish a list of recommendations for European policymakers looking to address predicted winter shortages of natural gas for space heating, Birol said.
The report also projects that growth in renewable energy generation capacity will be less than what is needed for the global energy sector to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The world, and Europe in particular, is responding to the energy crisis by adopting energy efficiency measures, according to the IEA’s latest annual report on energy efficiency published earlier this month. But global investment in energy efficiency in the second half of this decade is expected to reach about half of the levels needed to align with a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the organization said. .
Even so, Birol said that “it is far too early to write the 1.5 degree goal obituary,” referring to the goal of limiting global average warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News provides essential information for energy and environmental professionals.
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