Renewables will surpass natural gas, nuclear by 2016: IEA

The generation of power from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources will exceed that from natural gas and double the output from nuclear by 2016. The International Energy Agency reported yesterday at a conference in New York that renewables are now the fastest growing power generation sector and will grow another 40 per cent in the next five years. By 2018, renewable electricity generation will account for almost a quarter of all global power.

solar-fossil-fuel-IEA-renewables-energy-biofuel-hydro-power-EDIWeekly
Renewables will grow by 40 per cent in the next five years, but solar will experience a slowdown, according to the International Energy Agency. Whereas growth in solar has averaged 45 per cent annually over the past fifteen years, it will slow to 25 per cent in the next few years.

 

OECD member countries are still driving the growth, the IEA report says, but non-OECD countries are becoming increasingly involved. In fact, one of the factors that is driving the growth in renewables is increased investment in emerging markets like China, where renewables help supply the demand for electricity while “contributing to climate change mitigation,” the report says. China and other non-OECD countries will account for two-thirds of new renewable power generation between now and 2018. The growth in China and in these other markets will more than offset the slower growth taking place in Europe and the US.

Another factor at play in the rise of renewables is the fact that they are becoming more cost competitive. Wind competes well with fossil fuels in markets like Brazil, Turkey and New Zealand, the IEA says, and solar does well in markets with high peak prices for electricity, where distributed photovoltaic generation costs can be lower than retail electricity prices.

Hydroelectric power, which now accounts for roughly 80 per cent of the world’s renewable energy, will continue to dominate. Solar power, however, which had been growing at an annual rate of 45 per cent for the last fifteen years, is now projected to slow to just 25 per cent annual growth.

Biofuels will play a slightly larger role in transport and in renewable heat, but their use is increasing at slower rates than renewable electricity. Biofuels output should account for nearly 4 per cent of global oil demand for road transport in 2018.

Present fossil fuel dependence unsustainable

In her comments at the New York renewable energy finance forum where the IEA report was released, executive director Maria van der Hoeven said that current world energy trends remain “clearly unsustainable,” rooted as they are in fossil fuels. The IEA’s carbon intensity index, which measures the number of tonnes of CO2 that are emitted for each unit of energy supplied, has not changed in twenty years, despite new technologies and international efforts.

In some countries, which she did not name, the competitiveness of renewables is hampered by subsidies to fossil fuels, which the IEA estimates were six times higher than global incentives for renewables.

Nevertheless, the rapid growth of renewables represents a “bright spot in an otherwise bleak assessment” of the world’s progress toward cleaner energy.

However, policy makers need to avoid making decisions that lead to investor uncertainty and volatility, Van der Hoeven insisted, saying that the main challenge facing the renewable energy sector, the “public enemy #1 for investors and the most important barrier to renewable energy deployment, is policy uncertainty.”

Van der Hoeven warned that governments should not use difficult economic conditions as an excuse to cut back on support for renewables. No country, she said, can afford not to have renewables “as a fundamental pillar” of its energy portfolio.

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Transportation workers urge quick response to Lac-Megantic report
  • Ontario homebuilder first to offer power storage system as option
  • Toyota Canada top producer for first time in 2015; RAV4 on a roar
  • Car Tech Trends from CES 2018
  • Volvo will use DME to fuel heavy-duty trucks in North America
  • Zero-emissions vehicle strategy by 2018 for Canada with major boost to zero emissions infrastructure
  • MRO continuing its rebound after Aveos collapse
  • Company opens new landing gear plant for "most important contract" ever
  • Drop in manufacturing pushes industrial capacity use down in Q4 2012
  • Truckers hopeful about progress on border security, emissions, after Washington summit
  • Pilot project will use algae to recycle industrial CO2 emissions
  • Auto industry back on top as Canada's biggest exporter: report
  • NA clean energy goal of 50 per cent can't be met without nuclear, industry says
  • NASA says human Mars landing is feasible by 2030s
  • Japan setting records for new solar power installations
  • Car sales set records in November
  • Will quotas, targets and better technology get more drivers into EVs?
  • Aerospace is to Quebec what auto industry is to Ontario, and must be supported: Couillard
  • Overseas growth in future for Canada's air transportation industry
  • BMW to invest 6 per cent of revenue in R&D; plans to streamline manufacturing to pay for research
Scroll to Top