Renewables are fighting off the pandemic
New data released this morning shows that total U.S. solar installations will reach a new record this year.
Why it matters: It's one of several recent signs that the trajectory of the renewables sector has been less hampered by COVID-19 than initially feared.
Driving the news: The U.S. saw 3.8 gigawatts of new installed capacity in the third quarter, mostly coming from utility-scale projects.
- Full-year additions are expected to exceed 19 GW, per the consultancy Wood Mackenzie (see the chart above).
What they're saying: "As quarterly volumes demonstrate more resilience to pandemic impacts than originally anticipated — with a faster-than-expected recovery for distributed solar — our outlook for the year has increased since last quarter," notes the analysis released with the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Where it stands: The report notes that utility-scale projects were only "minimally" affected by pandemic-related construction delays.
But the residential market has been on a roller coaster as lockdowns and other forces caused installations to crater earlier in the year.
- In California, the biggest market, installations fell 23% in the second quarter but rose 15% in Q3.
- New York was even more dramatic, falling 73% from Q1 to Q2 and then rebounding by 156% in Q3, the report notes.
- Greentech Media (which Wood Mackenzie owns) has more.
The big picture: Separately, a new International Energy Agency analysis of global electricity markets finds that while global electricity demand is falling 2% this year due to the pandemic, renewable power generation rose around 7%.
- "Long-term contracts, priority access to the grid and sustained installation of new plants are all underpinning strong growth in renewable electricity production," the report released yesterday finds.
- IEA also said that installations of new global renewable generating capacity will reach a new record this year.
Yes, but: The global energy mix — in both electricity and elsewhere — is not changing quickly enough to put the world on a path toward sustained emissions cuts consistent with Paris Agreement goals.
- Last week the research firm BloombergNEF released its big annual Climatescope analysis of global clean energy investment trends in emerging markets.
- One finding of note: "Pandemic-related disruptions now appear to be giving investors pause and slowing emerging markets clean energy investment flows."