The world’s renewable energy capacity is on track to grow 50% over the next five years, the traditionally-cautious International Energy Agency reported earlier this week, with solar installations, onshore wind, and hydropower leading the charge.
“This is a pivotal time for renewable energy,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Technologies such as solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind are at the heart of transformations taking place across the global energy system. Their increasing deployment is crucial for efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution, and expand energy access.”
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The Paris-based agency “predicts that by 2024 a new dawn for cheap solar power could see the world’s solar capacity grow by 600 gigawatts, almost double the installed total electricity capacity of Japan,” The Guardian reports. “Overall, renewable electricity is expected to grow by 1,200 GW in the next five years, the equivalent of the total electricity capacity of the U.S.”
The IEA sees renewable energy increasing from 26% of global electricity production today to 30% by 2024. The cost of solar already comes in below retail electricity prices in most countries, and is expected to fall by another 15 to 35% over the next four years—a trend that will trigger higher demand from corporate electricity users and a more than doubling of rooftop solar installations by 2024.
“However, Birol warned that the role of renewables in the global energy system would need to grow even faster if the world hopes to meet its climate targets,” The Guardian states. And the potential is there: “Even after the ‘spectacular’ growth expected for solar over the next five years, panels will cover only 6% of the world’s available rooftops, leaving room for further growth.”
Birol warned that regulators and utilities will have to adapt to prevent the rapid rise of solar from disrupting existing electricity markets.
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