Dec 6, 2022 - Technology

New report projects massive renewable energy growth — with caveats

Data: International Energy Agency; Chart: Axios Visuals

A pair of new reports show analysts are getting more bullish about renewables and electric vehicle adoption — and that gaming out the energy future is really tough.

Driving the news: The International Energy Agency just dropped its largest-ever upward revision of renewable power forecasts.

  • IEA sees an additional 2,400 gigawatts of capacity coming online worldwide over the next half-decade.

Why it matters: That forecast is almost 30% (!) higher than last year's edition of the rolling 5-year projections.

  • The agency now sees renewables surpassing coal as the largest source of global power generation by 2025.

The big picture: The global energy crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine is bringing "unprecedented" renewables momentum.

  • "Fossil fuel supply disruptions have underlined the energy security benefits of domestically generated renewable electricity, leading many countries to strengthen policies supporting renewables," IEA said.
  • More expensive fossil fuels also tilt the playing field toward solar and wind.

Driving the news, part 2: New analysis from Columbia University's energy think tank explores a wide set of medium- and long-term EV projections from 2019 and late 2021.

  • They surveyed investment banks, governments, consultancies, energy companies and others.
  • The analyses see EVs ranging from 11% to 63% of global passenger car sales in 2030 and from 31% to almost 100% in 2050.

Yes, but: Part of this range stems from the kinds of studies they compared, which span modeling under existing policies, scenarios for a net-zero emissions pathway, and space in between.

  • "The wide range is due to varying degrees of anticipated carbon constraints."

Another takeaway: The 2021 analyses are mostly more bullish on the level of future EV growth than the 2019 takes, sometimes significantly so, as indicated by figures 10 and 11 in the full report.

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