Renewable energy grew at record pace in 2021, says a new report compiled by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
While this is, of course, welcome news, the IEA also cautioned that the world is at serious risk of missing the mid-century deadline to achieve net zero carbon emissions if we continue rolling out renewable energy solutions at the current pace.
In this blog, we’ll be rounding up exactly what the IEA report outlines and some of our own thoughts too.
The rise in the deployment of renewable energy solutions came despite increasing costs for the key materials required to manufacture solar panels and wind turbines. This shows how, even at higher costs, the renewables sector is growing to satisfy a global demand for cleaner, greener energy.
By the end of 2021, new renewable power capacities are expected to rise to 290 gigawatts, which outstrips the previous record set in 2020, of 280 gigawatts.
In the coming years renewables will be at the forefront of growing energy infrastructure, and according to the report, will account for 95% of the total increase in global power capacity, which means a rise of over 60% from levels we saw last year, to almost 5,000GW by 2026.
The IEA report outlines, that on the current path, in five years’ time renewable energy will match global power capacity of fossil fuel and nuclear power combined.
The report also demonstrates how big a role solar power is playing in increasing reliance on renewable energy, with photovoltaic solar power offering more than 50% of the new capacity, due to come online in the next five years.
The record renewable supply of 290 GW’s is just another sign that there is a viable alternative to the fossil fuel industry, and a new economic sector is ready to take the mantle.
Although inflated costs for materials and energy is yet another burden to bear for the industry, we’re also seeing spiralling fossil fuel prices running parallel, which is turning renewables into a genuine, reliable alternative.
The IEA report has landed during the grip of an energy crisis across Europe, and more specifically in the UK. Concerns have been raised that without a complete overhaul of the UK’s energy market, almost 90% of electricity generation in this country is set to be backed by government contract.
It’s because of this, analysts warn that by 2035 UK energy providers will limit incentives in response to supply and demand, due to sustained government backing.
It’s actually China that leads the way when it comes to adding renewable energy capacity, while India is the country with the highest rate when it comes to increasing renewable energy projects.
The report by the IEA explains that China is projected to hit 1,200GW of total wine and solar capacity in 2026 – this is four years shy of their original 2030 target.
When compared to the five years between 2015 to 2020, India is expected to double their wind and solar installations. This growth trend is also expected in Europe and across the pond in the US too.
In fact, between India, China, the US, and Europe renewable energy capacity accounts for 80% of the worldwide total.
The increasing renewable support in India is helping to bolster the government’s announcement of attempting to hit 500GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030, and shows how far India has come when it comes to pushing the clean energy agenda.
Despite consistent criticism of their emissions, China has continued to demonstrate their strengths when it comes to expanding renewable energy projects.
Despite the positives from the report, the warning still remains: ‘progress must continue, and must continue at a faster pace than we are currently seeing’.
The report states that governments must encourage further growth in the sector by addressing crucial obstacles, such as grid integration challenges and inconsistent approaches on policy from country-to-country, and government-to-government.
This is coupled with high financial burdens for the developing world and inconsistent remuneration from leading nations which are also blocking the pathway too.
The report concludes that even in a scenario where the road is cleared, the shift to a renewable energy infrastructure will still fall far shorter of what would be required to hit net-zero by 2050.
These warnings come as the UK’s target of hitting 40GW of wind power by 2030 looks increasingly likely to fall short, with experts claiming that hitting such a target would mean the country must construct the equivalent of a 1.2GW offshore wind farm (the likes of which has never been built before in the UK) every ten weeks for the coming two decades.