India to lead renewable energy surge after pandemic disruption

Katie Ramirez
November 14, 2020

Net installed renewable capacity is forecast to grow by nearly 4% globally in 2020, and renewables will account for almost 90% of the increase in total power capacity worldwide, according to the IEA.

"By that time, renewables are expected to supply one-third of the world's electricity - and their total capacity will be twice the size of the entire power capacity of China today", Birol said in a statement.

However, the construction of plants and manufacturing activity has ramped up again, and logistical challenges have been mostly resolved, the IEA said.

The IEA expects renewables to meet the increasing power demand around the world resulting from economic growth, in which 99 percent of the increase in electricity will meet this demand over the next five years.

The IEA says even stronger growth will follow, with India and the European Union to emerge as driving forces behind a record expansion of global renewable capacity additions of almost 10% in 2021 - the fastest growth since 2015.

"In 2025, renewables are set to become the largest source of electricity generation worldwide, ending coal's five decades as the top power provider", said the head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol.

The World Bank has advised Pakistan to go for urgent expansion of renewable electricity supply by giving it preference over all other fuel sources - including domestic and imported coal - for energy cost savings and environmental benefits.

However, this year-even in its less ambitious "main case" scenario-wind, solar, hydro, and biomass are projected to take the lead within the next five years. However, electricity is only about one-fifth of all energy use, with the burning of fuels in transport, industry and heating making up the bulk of energy emissions. "The resilience and positive prospects of the sector are clearly reflected by continued strong appetite from investors".

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Bahar says that China contributed significantly to the jump in renewables in 2020, and Chinese renewable energy capacity is expected to grow by 30% compared to 2019.

In India, Covid-19 disruptions will cause a significant slowdown in 2020 photovoltaic deployment, but a strong rebound is expected in 2021 and 2022, the IEA said in its Renewables 2020 report. But if countries address these policy uncertainties in time, the report estimates that global solar PV and wind additions could each increase by a further 25% in 2022.

"Governments can tackle these issues to help bring about a sustainable recovery and accelerate clean energy transitions", added Birol.

However, renewables outside the electricity sector are suffering from the impacts of the Covid crisis.

This year, covid-19 lockdowns prompted a precipitous crash in fuel demand which tanked the the fossil fuel market. Even allowing for the relatively short development and construction times associated with solar PV and wind projects, competitive bidding for new VRE capacity and associated investments in the transmission system should start immediately if Pakistan hopes to reap the cost, energy security, and environmental benefits outlined in the study.

Total installed wind and solar PV capacity is on course to surpass natural gas in 2023 and coal in 2024. The key policies coming to an end include China's offshore wind and solar subsidies and the solar and onshore wind production tax credits in the U.S.

Throughout the first ten months of the year, China, India, and the European Union have boosted auctioned renewable power capacity by 15% over the year ago period.

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