Sunday, 24 January, 2021


Electrifying growth of renewables despite pandemic

Record new renewable energy capacity this year and next — IEA Electrifying growth of renewables despite pandemic
Kristine Garrett | 14 November, 2020, 06:46

Bucking the slowdown in most of the power sector caused by responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, renewable energy actually grew in 2020, and will represent about 90% of the total power capacity added for the year, according to the International Energy Agency.

The authors forecasts that solar photovoltaic (PV), wind and hydropower will account for nearly 90% of the total expansion in overall power capacity globally in the year. This is the result of the commissioning of delayed projects where construction and supply chains were disrupted by the pandemic, and growth in markets where the pre-Covid project pipeline was robust. Global energy demand is set to decline 5% - but long-term contracts, priority access to the grid and continuous installation of new plants are all underpinning strong growth in renewable electricity.

"In the United States, for instance, if the proposed clean electricity policies of the next U.S. administration are implemented, they could lead to a much more rapid deployment of solar PV and wind, contributing to a faster decarbonisation of the power sector", Fatih Birol, chief executive at the IEA, said.

Despite covid-19, IEA technicians emphasize that "the investment appetite for renewables remains strong, especially in those countries that have supportive policies and transparent and predictable remuneration".

If the agency's predictions hold, renewable energy could become the largest source of electricity worldwide by 2025, according to Dr. Birol.

Compared to May's report, the IEA increased its renewable capacity by 18% in 2020.

ISLAMABAD-New World Bank study suggested that Pakistan should quickly implement a major scale-up of solar and wind generation.

India is expected to be the largest contributor to the renewables upswing in 2021, with the country's annual additions doubling from 2020.

Managing Director, National Transmission & Despatch Company Dr Khawaja Riffat Hassan said sufficient investments were needed in the transmission system, including modern automation and control systems and a reliable forecasting system to achieve VRE targets set through Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy (AREP) 2019.

However, the IEA predicts a small decline in rate capacity additions in 2022 in comparison with 2020 due to the expiration of existing incentives and uncertainties. "In the United States, for instance, if the proposed clean electricity policies of the next U.S. administration are implemented, they could lead to a much more rapid deployment of solar PV and wind, contributing to a faster [decarbonization] of the power sector". The IEA also states that solar and wind overtaking gas and coal capacity are two "milestones".

The resilience of renewable energy production goes against other energy and economic trends seen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the cratering of demand for fossil fuels. "Governments can tackle these issues to help bring about a sustainable recovery and accelerate clean energy transitions". Even allowing for the relatively short development and construction times associated with solar PV and wind projects, competitive bidding for new VRE capacity and associated investments in the transmission system should start immediately if Pakistan hopes to reap the cost, energy security, and environmental benefits outlined in the study. The growing capacity will take the amount of renewable electricity produced globally to new heights. "By that time, renewables are expected to supply one-third of the world's electricity".

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