“Forecasts are difficult, especially when they concern the future,” a quip attributed either to Karl Valentin, Mark Twain or the physicist Nils Bohr. In other words: After that, sometimes everything is different than experts had previously calculated. One factor was missing, one development was overlooked.
The International Energy Agency IEA is currently experiencing what it’s like to be wrong on the right side. Renewable energy capacity grew so much in 2020 that it surpassed even the highest forecast bills, the agency announced in its latest report.
Forecasts increased for the second time in a year
Despite the pandemic, capacity grew by 280 gigawatts compared to the previous year. The demand for other energy sources decreased. However, biofuels were less in demand due to the pandemic.
The IEA increased its renewable energy growth forecasts from November 2020 by 25 percent and from May 2020 by 40 percent.
The 45 percent increase in renewables compared to 2019 is the largest since 1999. Of the total new energy sources created last year, 90 percent were renewable, mainly due to wind and solar power. Such extremely high increases could become the “new normal”, reports “Carbon Brief”.
IEA anticipates continued solar boom
The expansion of wind turbines has almost doubled to 114 GW worldwide. The IEA predicts the greatest growth in photovoltaics in the next few years. The majority of 2020 is due to the rapid construction of solar power plants in China.
As a result, China is also the only country in which growth in the solar sector will slow down. At the same time, the country is the largest manufacturer of solar technology and the raw materials required for it. The IEA sees this concentration as a risk in the longer term.
Other countries will absorb the normalization in China. Solar expansion in Europe has increased thanks to favourable prices and good conditions. Led by Germany, France and the Netherlands, Europe thus becomes the second largest market for renewable energies. The US is optimistic that tax breaks will pick up the pace.
Plus 160 Gigawatts 2022
It should not be forgotten that China recently emitted more greenhouse gases than all developed countries combined, and Germany produces almost a quarter of its energy mix from lignite. The sticking point here are mainly heaters that run on fossil fuels. There is also room for improvement in solar energy, a consequence of too many regulations, says a solar entrepreneur in conversation with “Watson”.
In India, which recently saw little growth in the solar sector, the IEA expects recurring growth. However, the forecasts are still uncertain due to the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in the country in recent weeks. In total, the growth of solar capacity will be 160 gigawatts or more in 2022, and the increase in energy from wind power will be 80 gigawatts, the agency predicts.