2021 is on course to break a global record for renewable energy development, as per the International Energy Agency’s most recent Renewables Market Report. That is notwithstanding skyrocketing commodity costs, which could bog down the transition to clean energy in the future.
With 290 GW in extra capacity expected to be commissioned before the year’s over, 2021 will crush the record for renewable electricity development that was simply set a year ago. The current year’s increments even outperform a forecast that the International Energy Agency (IEA) made in the spring.
“Exceptionally high growth” would be the “new normal” for renewable sources of electricity, the IEA said at that point. Solar energy, specifically, was on target to accept the crown as the “new king of electricity,” the IEA said in its October 2020 World Energy Outlook report.
Solar kept on ruling in 2021, with an expected record development of almost 160 GW. It made up the greater part of all the renewable energy capacity added for the current year, a trend that the IEA thoroughly considers will proceed with the next five. Renewables will probably make up 95% of new power capacity all around the world through 2026, as per the new report. The IEA additionally predicts unstable development for offshore wind capacity, which could more than triple over the same period.
By 2026, the IEA says, the amount of renewable electricity capacity universally will probably be comparable to the present fossil fuel and nuclear energy capacity combined. That is an enormous shift. In 2020, renewable energy just made up 29% of electricity generation globally.
Still, there are some dark clouds in the IEA’s new forecast for renewables. Soaring costs for commodities, transportation, and energy all compromise the already rosy viewpoint for renewable power. The cost of polysilicon used to make solar panels has more than quadrupled since the beginning of 2020, as indicated by the IEA. Investment costs for utility-scale onshore wind and solar farms have risen 25% contrasted with 2019. That could postpone the completion of new renewable energy projects that have as of now been contracted.
More than half of the new utility-scale solar projects previously made planned for 2022 could confront deferrals or cancellation on account of bigger sticker prices for materials and transportation, as per a different analysis by Rystad Energy.
If commodity costs stay high throughout the next year, it could eradicate three to five years of gains solar and wind have made, respectively, with regards to moderateness. A dramatic price drop for photovoltaic modules over the past few decades has fueled solar’s success. Costs tumbled from $30 per watt in 1980 to $0.20 per watt for solar energy in 2020. By last year, solar was at that point the least expensive source of electricity in many parts of the world.
Renewables haven’t fallen excessively far behind, in any case, since costs are ascending for all types of energy. “The high commodity and energy prices we are seeing today pose new challenges for the renewable industry, but elevated fossil fuel prices also make renewables even more competitive,” IEA chief Fatih Birol said in a press release today.
Still, the change to renewable energy needs to accelerate fundamentally to meet the size of the climate emergency. Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels need to virtually vanish by the middle of the century to stay away from cataclysmic climate change, as indicated by a huge body of research. To get that going, new renewable power capacity needs to develop at almost twice the rate the IEA predicts throughout the following five years, the agency says.