Renewable Sources Of Electricity Could Match The Output Of Coal-Fired Power Stations In 5 Years

Over the next five years, renewable sources of energy are set for rapid growth and will likely match the output from the world’s coal-fired power plants, according to a Carbon Brief analysis.

Eco Watch reports:

“This would mean renewables matching coal as the joint-largest contributors to the global electricity mix in 2024, according to Carbon Brief analysis of new forecasts in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Renewables 2019 report.”

The new analysis is based on what the IAE calls its “accelerated case” which calculates the combined capacity of hydroelectric, wind, solar, and biomass power which is expected to grow by an astounding 60 percent over the next five years.

Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IAE, notes:

“Thanks to falling costs, technologies such as solar photovoltaics (PV) 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.”

Based on research, wind and solar capacity will nearly double, accounting for 85 percent of the total increase in renewable sources of power. Hydro and biomass would account for the other 15 percent of projected growth.

Even more encouraging is the fact that the IEA’s “base-case” projections have almost always underestimated the rate of growth in the renewable energy sector.

In many countries, the growth of the renewable energy has put a serious dent in the need for fossil fuel sources of electricity, changing the overall market paradigm away from traditional electricity generating sources and toward wind, solar, and biomass. This led Dr. Birol of the IAE to remark:

“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.”

In just nine years — since 2010 — the global supply of renewable energy has grown by 60%, which is almost enough output to power half of the U.S. economy.

That’s where the IAE forecast comes into play:

“Over the next five years, the IEA base case forecasts that renewables will meet a larger two-thirds share of the increase in global demand. This would mean a continuing, if somewhat diminished role for coal and gas in meeting rising demand, with extra CO2 emissions to match.”

But as the demand for renewable energy sources increases, the same can be said of the expected global need for more electricity, meaning that for the foreseeable future, dirty sources of power will continue to be necessary:

“Given the increase in demand overall, gas in particular, but also coal, would see their output – and emissions – increasing over the next five years in the IEA base case, despite losing market share.”

The greatest promise is seen in solar, which can be used to provide energy to both residential and commercial customers across the world:

“Given costs for these systems are now at or below the price of retail electricity in most countries – with costs set to fall a further 15-35% by 204 – there is an ‘explosive cocktail’ of ingredients is in place for a ‘boom’ in distributed solar capacity, Paolo Frankl, head of the IEA’s renewable energy division told a pre-publication press call.”

This latest analysis is incredibly encouraging, but it also shows the need for a coordinated strategy at every level to assure that we replace energy sources that contribute to climate change with those that don’t.


Featured Image Via Flickr

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Andrew Bradford

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