Renewable power set for record growth this year and next despite COVID-19: IEA

New Delhi (NVI): The renewable power sector is set to witness record growth this year and next, despite COVID-19 crisis in other energy sectors such as oil, gas and coal, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In its renewable report today, the IEA said that new additions of renewable power capacity worldwide will increase to a record level of almost 200 gigawatts (GW) this year. This is nearly 90 per cent of the total expansion in overall power capacity, led by wind, hydropower and solar PV.

The expansion is driven by China and the United States were developers are rushing to take advantage of expiring incentives. Also, wind and solar additions are set to jump by 30 per cent in both the countries, the IEA said.

According to the IEA’s renewables 2020 report, an even stronger growth is to come in 2021. India and the European Union will be the driving forces behind a record expansion of global renewable capacity of nearly 10 per cent next year, which would be the fastest growth since 2015 .

As the result of the commissioning of delayed projects where construction and supply chains were disrupted by the pandemic and growth in markets where the pre-Covid project pipeline was robust.

India is expected to be the largest contributor to the renewables upswing in 2021, with the country’s annual additions doubling from this year.

IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol, said, “Renewable power is defying the difficulties caused by the pandemic, showing robust growth while others fuels struggle.”

“The resilience and positive prospects of the sector are clearly reflected by continued strong appetite from investors – and the future looks even brighter with new capacity additions on course to set fresh records this year and next,” he added.

In the first 10 months of this year, China, India and the European Union have driven auctioned renewable power capacity worldwide 15 per cent higher than in the same period last year.

The IEA also stressed that, however, policy makers still need to take steps to support the strong momentum behind renewables.

As per the agency report’s main forecast, the expiry of incentives in key markets and the resulting uncertainties lead to a small decline in renewables capacity additions in 2022. But if countries address these policy uncertainties in time, the report estimates that global solar PV and wind additions could each increase by a further 25 per cent in 2022.

The policy decisions in key markets like China, and effective support for rooftop solar PV, are critical factors influencing the speed of deployment. They have impacted by the crisis as households and businesses reprioritised investments, the report said.

Under favourable policy conditions, solar PV annual additions could reach a record level of 150 gigawatts (GW) by 2022, an increase of almost 40 per cent in just three years.

“Renewables are resilient to the Covid crisis but not to policy uncertainties,” said Birol, adding that, governments can tackle these issues to help bring about a sustainable recovery and accelerate clean energy transitions.

The IEA report further estimates that, the electricity generated by renewable technologies will increase by 7 per cent globally in 2020, underpinned by the record new capacity additions.

However, renewables outside the electricity sector are suffering also from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, including biofuels used in transport are set to experience their first annual decline in two decades. The net result of these declines and the growth of renewable power is an expected overall increase of 1 per cent in global renewable energy demand in 2020.

“In 2025, renewables are set to become the largest source of electricity generation worldwide, ending coal’s five decades as the top power provider,” Birol added.