May 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Renewable energy will show "resilience" to coronavirus pandemic

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic is slowing growth of wind and solar electricity projects, but the renewables sector is "more resilient than other fuels" and slated to bounce back quickly, the International Energy Agency said.

Why it matters: It's on track to be the first year-over-year decline in 20 years, IEA said in a report that offers their downward revision in expected 2020–2021 capacity growth.

It's something of a glass half-full for people fearful that the crisis will hinder efforts to fight climate change.

  • IEA sees growth resuming next year after an expected 13% drop in 2020, but the forecast for additions over the two years combined has taken a hit.
  • And decarbonization of energy systems needs to speed up greatly to meet emissions cuts consistent with the Paris climate deal.

Driving the news: "The decline reflects delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruption, lockdown measures and social-distancing guidelines, and emerging financing challenges," the report states.

One level deeper: Solar photovoltaics and wind are expected to provide the vast majority of global capacity additions this year, but their growth is forecast to be respectively 18% and 12% lower than last year.

  • Still, IEA anticipates that utility-scale projects will rebound because most of them in the pipeline are already financed and under construction.
  • Rooftop solar, however, will see slower recovery as households and small businesses review investments, IEA said.

Of note: IEA actually sees renewable power generation growing a bit this year despite pandemic-related declines in overall power demand.

  • Renewables are the only fuel source with a forecasted demand increase in 2020. The report notes renewables' "low operating costs and priority access to the grid in many markets."

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