International Energy Agency forecasts 115 GW of new solar this year
Sep 24, 2019 03:14 PM ET
- The global expansion of PV, wind power and other clean energies will see double-digit growth this year as solar continues to lead the pack.
After stagnating last year, renewable energy has hit back with a vengeance in 2019 with the International Energy Agency (IEA) expecting almost 200 GW of new clean energy generation capacity will have been added by year-end.
The lion’s share of the new capacity will come from solar – 115 GW of it despite a small decline in China – as PV and wind offer very much the mainstream options.
Rapid solar power adoption across EU member states, particularly Spain, will offset the dip in the world’s biggest market according to the IEA, which also picked out Vietnam, India, the U.S. and Japan as fast-expanding solar markets. In fact the only uncertainty cited in the latest IEA forecast concerned the unpredictable Chinese marketplace.
This year PV will crack the 100 GW mark globally for the first time, helped by a more-than-80% fall in solar prices since 2010 as PV becomes the largest clean energy technology deployed for the third year running, according to IEA predictions.
But the deployment seen this year will still fall well short of the 300 GW of new renewable energy capacity required annually from 2018 to 2030 to meet the IEA’s ‘sustainable development’ scenario. The agency – often criticized for low-balling its solar estimates and recently accused of peddling the myth of natural gas as a low-carbon energy source by German thinktank the Energy Watch Group – criticized Chinese policymakers for their abrupt decision to rein in public solar subsidies in May last year. That u-turn was a primary contributory factor in the volume of renewable energy deployed worldwide failing to rise in 2018, the first time that had occurred in 17 years.
“We are experiencing a dramatic decline in the cost of solar power, coupled with strong onshore wind growth,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “And the offshore wind is showing encouraging signs. These technologies are the cornerstones of global efforts to combat climate change, reduce air pollution and provide energy access for all.”
The IEA estimates the onshore wind market will grow 15% to 53 GW this year, driven by new installations in the U.S. and China. The increase in offshore wind energy is expected to remain stable at around 5 GW in 2019, led by the European Union and China.