Electricity capacity from renewable energy is set to expand by as much as 50% in the next five years, bolstered by government support and falling costs. But more would be needed to slow down warming of the globe, the International Energy Agency said.
Those gains represent an increase of about 1,200 gigawatts from 2018 to 2024, equal to the total installed capacity in the U.S., according to a report published Monday by the Paris-based institution. Countries are adding more clean power as a key part of efforts to de-carbonize energy supply, but it’s still not fast enough, said the organization that advises rich nations on energy policy.
The world must invest $2.4 trillion in clean energy every year through 2035 and cut the use of coal-fired power to almost nothing by 2050 to slow the quickest pace of climate change since the end of the last ice age, according to scientists convened by the United Nations.
If hydrogen could be made to store energy cheaply enough, it would allow utilities to scale back on fossil fuel plants by making it easier for the grid to handle intermittent power flows from wind and solar farms. For example, about $3.4 billion of revenue was lost in China last year because wind farms were forced to remain idle because of congested electric lines.
A report published by the IEA and the International Renewable Energy Agency found the share of fossil fuels used to satisfy energy demand would need to be cut in half by 2050 and emissions would need to fall more than 70 percent to keep the mean temperature from rising.
The transition to renewables, wind and solar power in particular, has typically run ahead of expectations this decade and fresh data from the United States illustrates this phenomenon nicely. In the first half of this year, combined wind and solar provided 140.97 TWh of the 1959.20 TWh generated in the country.
Grid-scale electricity storage will move closer to commercial reality on Friday when the U.K.’s grid operator offers contracts to companies to help balance the network, a key measure needed to help balance increasing supply from renewables.
A game changing moment for the UK.
According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency, renewable energy now accounts for 80 percent of new generation among the 34 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. But, don’t break out the bubbly just yet. The new IEA report raises a number of concerns about the prospects for continued rapid growth in renewable energy investment through 2020, and the picture gets particularly murky when you throw non-OECD members into the mix.
Uncertainty about the political commitment to renewables in both developed and developing countries is making the future unclear. Policy makers want economic growth; and hydrocarbons are still cheap enough to be attractive energy sources. In addition the hydrocarbon energy lobbies are getting more interest.
The new set of Conservative environment and energy ministers announced on Tuesday bring a track record of opposing renewable energy, having fought against wind and solar farms, enthusiastically backed fracking and argued that green subsidies damage the economy.