International Energy Agency Video

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced an online video that shows how the renewables market is expected to expand over the next five years.

Renewable energy is set to expand by 43% up to 2022, mostly driven by the solar revolutions taking place in both China and India. According to the IEA, renewables accounted for two thirds of additional net capacity introduced in 2016, something which led them to be more positive in their five year forecast. Now the IEA are expecting at least a further 920GW of capacity to be installed by 2022.

Solar Heads the Race

With the growing influence of China, solar is expected to grow significantly and quickly over the next five years, out-performing coal across the globe. 74GW were added in 2016 which meant a rise of 50% on 2015 figures. This is in part being driven by record low auction prices in many countries that has seen the market dynamics change alongside improvements in technology.

China is by far the biggest producer of new solar capacity, much greater than any other country around the globe, including the USA and India. They are key to creating new panels and developing technology too – over 60% of the world’s solar cell manufacturing capacity now comes from this part of Asia. The change in China’s renewable outlook has also had a knock on effect for other developing countries. According to executive director of the IEA, Dr Fatih Birol:

“This Chinese dynamic has led to record-low announced prices of solar PV and onshore wind, which are now comparable or even lower than new-built fossil fuel alternatives. This is radically changing the narrative in other emerging economies, which are now looking at renewables as attractive options to sustain their development.”

Other countries are starting to see remarkable growth. India, for instance, has now started to overtake Europe and is expected to double its renewable output by 2022, with most of that coming from solar and wind projects.

Other renewables

While by no means out of the game, technologies such as wind and hydropower have fallen back in comparison to solar recently. Hydroelectricity remains, historically, the biggest provider of renewable energy around the globe but fewer new plants are being developed. Major tidal power developments such as those planned for Swansea in the UK have stalled, despite evidence that they could provide real impetus for the renewable energy market.

According to the video, renewable energy across the board continues to break new records but the biggest problem that governments face is how to integrate it with their current infrastructure. This a challenge faced by both developed and under-developed countries and one that could well define our low carbon future.

Renewables are increasing throughout the west and the share of power provided by varying resources from solar to hydropower is staggering: Denmark is expected to have 70% of its power from renewables by 2022, Ireland, Germany and the UK 35%, and Spain 25%. In China, India and Brazil it’s expected to quickly hit 10%.

Wind and solar account for nearly 80% of the new renewables capacity that has come on line in recent years and the need for system flexibility is becoming increasingly urgent.

According to the IEA, both market and governmental policy frameworks have a lot of evolving to do so that we can cope with the range of different energy models and objectives. That includes:

“Providing long-term price signals to attract investment, ensuring efficient short-term electricity dispatching, pricing negative externalities and unlocking sufficient levels of flexibility as well as fostering a portfolio of dispatchable renewable technologies, including hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and CSP.”