'COVID-19 crisis is hurting but not halting global renewable energy growth'

22 Mai, 2020, 16:58 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Renewable energy growth to suffer first decline in 2 decades due to pandemic IEA

The anticipated 13 per cent fall in net additions of renewable electricity capacity compared to 2019 - largely due to delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruption, lockdown measures and social-distancing guidelines, and emerging financing challenges - still represents a 6 per cent increase in global installed capacity - more than the combined size of power systems in both North America and Europe. Despite the rebound, the combined growth in 2020 and 2021 is nearly 10 percent lower compared to the previous IEA forecast.

Birol said the resilience of the renewables industry can not be taken for granted, and warned governments against reining in clean energy spending to weather the looming economic crisis wrought by the coronavirus.

Solar accounts for more than half of the forecast expansion in renewable power in 2020 and 2021, but additions decline to over 90GW in 2020 from 110GW in 2019.

"Putting emissions into a structural decline needed renewables to grow much faster across all sectors even before the COVID-19 crisis", the report said.

Nearly all mature markets are affected by downward revisions, except the United States where investors are rushing to finish projects before tax credits expire.

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In 2021, renewables are expected to show their resilience - the majority of the delayed projects are expected to come online, leading to a rebound in new installations. It emerged this week that the Trump administration has ended a two year rent holiday for wind and solar projects on federal land, hitting operators with massive retroactive bills, and Republicans are widely expected to step up hostility to clean energy projects if they are returned to the White House. The commissioning of two mega hydropower projects in China in 2021 supports the overall rebound of renewables.

"This is because of a significantly slower recovery of distributed solar PV as households and small businesses review investment plans", the agency added. However, forecast uncertainty remains for projects that were planning to achieve financial close in 2020 and become operational next year.

In particular, residential solar is set to take longer than other renewables like offshore wind to rebound following the COVID-19 lockdown.

The IEA made the projection in its Renewable Market Update report. "But continuing cost declines will not be enough to protect renewables from a range of uncertainties that are being exacerbated by COVID-19", said Dr Birol. Successful transitions to clean energy will require decarbonising the rest of the economy as well, including transport fuels and the heating of buildings.

The IEA also expects renewables fuels to lose its competitiveness to fossil fuels, given the low oil and gas prices.

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