Oct 21, 2019

IEA boosts its renewable energy forecast as costs fall

Reproduced from IEA’s Renewables 2019 report; Chart: Axios Visuals

The International Energy Agency's new five-year renewable energy forecast sees faster growth than last year's outlook, but warns that movement toward zero-carbon sources is too slow to confront global warming.

What they found: The agency forecasts that total global renewable power capacity, which was 2,502 gigawatts last year, will increase 50% by 2024, with solar accounting for over half the expansion.

  • "Overall, the forecast has been revised upwards by over 14% from [last year's report], owing to a more positive outlook for solar [photovoltaic] PV and on- and offshore wind."
  • The upward revision stems from "sustained cost reductions" and a generally better policy and regulatory environment.
  • IEA sees renewables — led by expanding solar and wind deployment — rising to meet 30% of global power demand in five years.

Why it matters: Expanded use of renewables in power and heating are important tools for fighting climate change and renewables are a major growth industry.

  • But global carbon emissions are still rising as use of fossil sources and renewables alike rise to meet growing demand.
  • Simply put, while the renewables' share of power demand is growing (see chart above), the whole pie is growing too.
  • “[D]eployment still needs to accelerate if we are to achieve long-term climate, air quality and energy access goals,” IEA head Fatih Birol said in a statement alongside the new forecast.

Quick take: Even IEA's higher forecast could prove too modest, given that the agency has often underestimated renewables growth in the past.

Go deeper

IEA hails offshore wind for battling global carbon emissions

Offshore wind power is poised to grow rapidly and fill an important role in the world's renewable electricity mix, a new International Energy Agency report found.

What’s new: Although offshore wind provides just 0.3% of global electricity today, IEA predicts within about two decades it will increase at least 15-fold and make up between 3.1% to 5.4%, depending on how aggressively countries enact policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Go deeperArrowOct 25, 2019

Solar power systems spike in homes, businesses and industrial plants

Reproduced from IEA’s Renewables 2019 report; Chart: Axios Visuals

IEA's new report sees rapid growth of solar power systems located at homes, businesses and industrial plants. They forecast this distributed capacity reaching 530 GW in five years.

The intrigue: Rooftop solar at homes isn't the main driver. "Contrary to conventional wisdom, distributed [photovoltaic] growth is dominated by commercial and industrial applications rather than residential," IEA notes.

Go deeperArrowOct 21, 2019

The mammoth gap between energy trends and climate goals

Climate protestors outside Congress. Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images

Existing and announced policies worldwide won't be nearly enough to rein in carbon emissions, despite the strong growth of climate-friendly energy sources, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.

Why it matters: The IEA's annual World Energy Outlook reports are among the most prominent attempts to model where energy systems are headed in the decades ahead. These big and data-rich studies (this year's weighs in at 810 pages) are widely cited by policymakers, analysts and other stakeholders.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 13, 2019