Renewable electricity supply to jump to 290GW in 2021 – IEA report says

Oredola Adeola


The quantum of electricity generated from solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable technologies is expected to jump to nearly 290 gigawatts by 2021, and 4,800 GW by 2026, an increase of over 60% compared with 2020 levels.

This was revealed in the International Energy Agency, IEA’s Renewables 2021 Market Report forecasts obtained by EnergyDay.

IEA had in its 2020 report said global electricity generation from renewables increased by 45% despite the pandemic in 2020.

According to the IEA’s report renewables is on course to accelerate over the coming years, with 2021 expected to set a fresh all-time record for new installations.

The report said, “Despite rising costs for key materials used to make solar panels and wind turbines, additions of new renewable power capacity this year are forecast to rise to 290 gigawatts (GW) in 2021, surpassing the previous all-time high set last year.

“By 2026, global renewable electricity capacity is forecast to rise more than 60% from 2020 levels to over 4 800 GW – equivalent to the current total global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined.

“Renewables are set to account for almost 95% of the increase in global power capacity through 2026, with solar PV alone providing more than half.

Fatih Barol, IEA Executive Director, in his remark about the report, said the amount of renewable capacity from 2021 to 2026 is expected to be 50% higher than from 2015 to 2020.
This, according to him , is driven by stronger support from government policies and more ambitious clean energy goals announced before and during the COP26 Climate Change Conference.

He said, “This year’s record renewable electricity additions of 290 gigawatts are yet another sign that a new global energy economy is emerging.

“The high commodity and energy prices we are seeing today pose new challenges for the renewable industry, but elevated fossil fuel prices also make renewables even more competitive, the IEA Director said.

The IEA report further established that the growth of renewables is expected to increase in all regions compared with the 2015-2020 period, adding that China remains the global leader in the volume of additional capacity .

China according to IEA, is expected to reach 1200 GW of total wind and solar capacity in 2026 – four years earlier than its current target of 2030.

The report further stated that India is set to come top in terms of the rate of growth, doubling new installations compared with 2015-2020.

It also noted that deployments of renewable facilities and installations in Europe and the United States are also on track to speed up significantly from the previous five years.

These four markets according to the report, together account for 80% of renewable capacity expansion worldwide.

Meanwhile, Dr. Birol said, “The growth of renewables in India is outstanding, supporting the government’s newly announced goal of reaching 500 GW of renewable power capacity by 2030 and highlighting India’s broader potential to accelerate its clean energy transition.

“China continues to demonstrate its clean energy strengths, with the expansion of renewables suggesting the country could well achieve a peak in its CO2 emissions well before 2030,” the IEA Director remarked

The report however revealed that solar PV remains the powerhouse of growth in renewable electricity, with its capacity additions forecast to increase by 17% in 2021 to a new record of almost 160 GW.

IEA also noted that in the same time frame, onshore wind additions are set to be almost one-quarter higher on average than during the 2015-20 period. Total offshore wind capacity is forecast to more than triple by 2026.
The annual report forecast that this record growth for renewables is expected to take place despite today’s high commodity and transport prices.

However, the report noted that should commodity prices remain high through the end of next year, the cost of wind investments would go back up to levels last seen in 2015 and three years of cost reductions for solar PV would be erased.

The report says, “Despite rising prices limiting growth, global biofuel demand in 2021 is forecast to surpass 2019 levels, rebounding from last year’s huge decline caused by the pandemic. Demand for biofuels is set to grow strongly to 2026, with Asia accounting for almost 30% of new production. India is expected to rise to become the third largest market for ethanol worldwide, behind the United States and Brazil.

IEA has however challenged Governments across the world to further accelerate the growth of renewables by addressing key barriers, such as permitting and grid integration challenges, social acceptance issues, inconsistent policy approaches, and insufficient remuneration. It noted that high financing costs in the developing world are also a major obstacle.