Renewables account for over half the added electricity capacity in 2015
The International Energy Agency has termed 2015 as the “year of records for renewable electricity” in its recently released market report. Renewable energy accounted for over half the total capacity addition for electricity generation worldwide during the year.
Annual renewable electricity capacity growth reached 153 gigawatts (GW), with onshore wind energy accounting for 63 GW and solar photovoltaics (PV) contributing 49 GW.
Global renewable electricity capacity is expected to grow further by 42 per cent (or 825 GW) by 2021. The report suggests that with sustained policy support and technology progress and expanding market, onshore wind generation costs will decrease by a 15 per cent by 2021 and while utility-scale solar PV costs will decline by a quarter.
These expected improvements are cited to policy changes and improved market prospects in four key countries including USA, China, India and Mexico. “In India an improved policy environment, competitive tenders and decreasing generation costs are major drivers for the more optimistic solar PV outlook,” the report says. The coutry’s solar PV capacity is forecast to grow eight-fold supported by ambitious government targets, as per the report. Contract prices have already declined by a factor of two since 2014 in India.
The share of renewables in overall electricity generation will rise from 23 per cent in 2015 to almost 28 per cent in 2021, suggests the report. This means, 60 per cent of the growth in world’s energy generation capacity in this period will come from renewable. Significant growth in renewables will accelerate de-carbonisation in developed countries, where demand for additional electricity is limited. In many emerging markets such as those in China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) where power demand is expected to continue to grow significantly, renewables are anticipated to meet only a portion of new generation growth.
Even though the report reflects positive results, more investment in the energy sector may be needed to meet climate goals. The projections for onshore wind and solar PV deployment are in line with the long term goal of limiting global temperature rise to 2°C. However, to meet the objective of the Paris Agreement—to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C—stronger decarbonisation rates and accelerated penetration of renewables in power, transport and heat sectors is needed, the report says.
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