Renewable Energy Has ‘Another Record Year of Growth’ Says IEA

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: It has been another record year for renewable energy, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and rising costs for raw materials around the world, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). About 290GW of new renewable energy generation capacity, mostly in the form of wind turbines and solar panels, has been installed around the world this year, beating the previous record last year. On current trends, renewable energy generating capacity will exceed that of fossil fuels and nuclear energy combined by 2026. New climate and energy policies in many countries around the world have driven the growth, with many governments setting out higher ambitions on cutting greenhouse gas emissions before and at the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow last month. However, this level of growth is still only about half that required to meet net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. According to the IEA report, published on Wednesday, renewables will account for about 95% of the increase in global power-generation capacity from now to the end of 2026, with solar power alone providing about half of the increase. Raw material prices have risen as the world has emerged from the Covid pandemic and on the back of the energy price rises around the world. These price increases have cancelled out some of the cost falls of recent years in the renewable sector. If they continue next year the cost of wind power will return to levels last seen in 2015, and two to three years of cost falls in solar power will be wiped out. Heymi Bahar, lead author of the report, said that commodity prices were not the main obstacles to growth, however. Wind and solar would still be cheaper than fossil fuels in most areas, he noted. Permitting was the main barrier to new wind energy projects around the world, and policy measures were needed to expand use of solar power for consumers and industry. "China installed the most new renewable energy capacity this year, and is now expected to reach 1,200GW of wind and solar capacity in 2026, four years earlier than its target of 2030," the report notes. "India, the world's third-biggest emitter, also experienced strong growth in renewable energy capacity in the past year, but its target -- set out at Cop26 -- of reaching net zero by 2070 is also regarded as too weak by many."

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