Solar power could emerge as a new leader amid rising global electricity demand

IEA key priorities and special projects for 2021

Solar power could emerge as a new leader amid rising global electricity demand

Renewable energies, primarily solar, could see an 80% increase in electricity production over the next decade, according to a report released on Tuesday..

The International Energy Agency said that in most countries it is now consistently cheaper to generate electricity from the sun than to burn coal or natural gas..

Solar PV is one of the cheapest sources of electricity in history today, thanks to mature technologies and policies that have lowered the cost of investing in this type of renewable energy, according to the Paris agency. Photovoltaic systems can be installed as panels in homes or businesses, and deployed in solar parks.

The agency’s report outlines three scenarios for the future development of global energy markets that have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. While fossil fuels face a challenging future, renewable energy prospects range from «strong to impressive», at the same time, solar energy plays a leading role here.

According to the intergovernmental body of the International Renewable Energy Agency, electricity costs from large-scale solar photovoltaic installations fell from about 38 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to the global average of 6.8 cents per kilowatt-hour last year..

«I see solar energy to become the new king of global electricity markets, IEA executive director said Fatih Birol (Fatih Birol). – Based on today’s political realities, it will set new deployment records every year after 2022».

In one of the scenarios studied by the IEA, according to which the pandemic is under control and by the beginning of 2023, global energy demand will return to pre-crisis levels, the number of photovoltaic systems will increase dramatically, increasing solar energy capacity by an average of 12% per year until 2030. Renewables will provide about 80% of the growth in global electricity production over the same period, overtaking coal as the primary means of generating electricity by 2025.

Electricity is expected to account for an increasing share of total energy consumption, given that providing clean energy to sectors such as transportation is critical for a low carbon future.

Solar power remains a cost-effective choice even in a prolonged pandemic scenario, causing long-term damage to the economy and leading up to the decade with the lowest energy demand growth since the 1930s, according to the IEA..

Solar power is showing even better results in «Sustainable Development Scenarios» IEA, in which the efforts of policymakers and investments in clean energy are putting the world on track to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The combined share of solar photovoltaic energy and wind in global generation will grow from 8% in 2019 to almost 30% in 2030.

«If governments and investors step up their green energy efforts, the growth in solar and wind power will be even more impressive and very encouraging to tackle the global climate challenge.», – said Birol.

Some governments are including environmental commitments in their coronavirus recovery plans as they face growing calls to use the pandemic as an opportunity to tackle the climate crisis by accelerating the move away from fossil fuels..

Oil companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have announced major strategic shifts towards low-carbon energy, another sign that the pandemic is profoundly changing global energy markets..

«Whether these shocks ultimately help or hinder efforts to accelerate the transition to clean energy and meet international energy and climate goals will depend on how governments respond to today’s challenges.», – says the report.

The skyrocketing rise in solar energy contrasts with the decline in coal production, which has been the backbone of global energy systems for decades..

Solar power could emerge as a new leader amid rising global electricity demand

Decrease in economic activity and electricity demand as a result of the pandemic was a catalyst «structural decline in global demand for coal», says the IEA report that 275 gigawatts of coal capacity will be decommissioned by 2025. This is approximately 13% of the total coal capacity in 2019.

Even if the global economy recovers from the pandemic next year, the share of coal in global generation will fall from 37% to 28% in 2030..

«The rise in renewable energy use, coupled with cheap natural gas and coal-free policies mean coal demand in advanced economies will almost halve by 2030», – the report says. Growth in coal use in developing Asia such as India is much lower than previously expected and not enough to offset declines elsewhere.

For example, the promise of the President of China Xi Jinping (Xi Jinping) making the country carbon neutral in 40 years will require the world’s largest coal consumer to drastically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

Solar power could emerge as a new leader amid rising global electricity demand

Reducing the cost of solar energy will only accelerate the disappearance of coal. The International Renewable Energy Agency said in June that solar energy prices could average 3.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for projects commissioned next year, down 42% from 2019 and more than one fifth lower than coal-fired power plants.

However, the prospects for oil are even more uncertain. Crude oil demand plummeted during the height of the quarantine, when factories were closed, planes did not fly, and motorists were at home. Despite a modest recovery, some analysts and BP believe oil demand may never return to its 2019 peak as the pandemic brings long-term changes to people’s lifestyles and movement, and prompts governments to take more aggressive measures to limit emissions. carbon.

The IEA expects the rise in oil demand to stop in the next decade, but said that without a major change in government policy, there is no sign of a rapid decline. «Based on current political attitudes, the global economic recovery will soon return oil demand to pre-crisis levels.», – said Birol.

The report predicts a 5% decline in energy demand this year, with energy-related carbon emissions expected to fall by 7% and investment in the energy sector to fall by 18%..

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