Renewables overtake coal to become largest source of installed power

clean energy council, renewable energy

Renewable energy surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world, according to the International Energy Agency.

The IEA recently announced it was significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables as a result of strong policy support in key countries and sharp cost reductions.

The latest edition of the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Market Report now sees renewables growing 13 per cent more between 2015 and 2021 than it did in last year’s forecast.

Last year marked a turning point for renewables – led by wind and solar, renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world, reaching a record 153 Gigawatt (GW), 15 per cent more than the previous year.

About half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world last year.

In China, which accounted for about half the wind additions and 40 per cent of all renewable capacity increases, two wind turbines were installed every hour in 2015.

“We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables and, as is the case with other fields, the center of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets,” IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol said.

Over the next five years, the IEA suggest renewables will remain the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, with their share growing to 28 per cent in 2021 from 23 per cent in 2015.

Renewables are expected to cover more than 60 per cent of the increase in world electricity generation over the medium term, rapidly closing the gap with coal.

“I am pleased to see that last year was one of records for renewables and that our projections for growth over the next five years are more optimistic,” said Dr. Birol.

“However, even these higher expectations remain modest compared with the huge untapped potential of renewables. The IEA will be working with governments around the world to maximize the deployment of renewables in coming years.”