Renewable energy is growing at record speed despite the pandemic

Wind energyPhoto: Tore Meek / NTB

World energy consumption has fallen during the pandemic, but renewable energy continues to grow. As early as 2025, it could be the largest source of electricity.

This is shown by the estimates for global energy consumption in a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Solar, wind, and hydropower could collectively bypass coal, which for many years has been the most important energy source in electricity production.

“In 2025, renewable energy will be the world’s foremost source of electricity, ending five decades of coal power as the main source of energy,” IEA chief Fatih Birol said, according to the AFP news agency.

While coal power is one of the world’s largest sources of CO2 emissions, renewable energy has very low emissions.

The expected changes in energy production will therefore slow down global climate emissions.

Corona crisis

The IEA estimates that renewable sources will account for a third of the world’s electricity production by 2025.

Almost half of that will be hydropower, but solar and wind are growing very fast.

The agency points out that the development has also been at record speed during the corona pandemic, which has led to a sharp reduction in the use of fossil energy.

In 2020, the world has had a fall in global energy demand of 5%, the largest since World War II.

Nevertheless, the IEA expects a 7% growth in electricity produced with renewable energy.

Historical emissions fall

Since the use of coal and oil has fallen dramatically during the corona crisis, global climate emissions have also fallen sharply this year.

The IEA has estimated that the decline will be 7 or 8%.

Nothing similar has happened since emissions began to pick up speed during the industrial revolution in the 19th century.

However, emissions are expected to rise rapidly again when the corona crisis is over.

Political uncertainty

The main reason why solar and wind power are growing so fast is that the costs of these energy sources have fallen sharply in line with technological development.

But public subsidies also play an important role.

Both in China and the USA – by far the world’s largest emitting nations – important subsidy schemes are scheduled to expire in the next few years.

The IEA therefore expects global renewable growth to decline slightly in 2022.

“Renewable energy is resistant to the corona crisis, but not to political uncertainty,” Birol said.

If the subsidies are instead maintained or strengthened, both in China, the USA and other countries, solar and wind power can have a capacity growth of as much as 25% in 2022.

Sharper climate goals

Over the past year, first the EU, and then China, Japan, and South Korea, have set new targets for so-called net zero emissions.

Joe Biden will introduce a similar goal for the United States when he takes over as president.

This means that countries will try to cut or compensate for all their climate emissions.

China will do this by 2060, while the other countries have set 2050 as a goal.

The IEA believes that the objectives will contribute to renewable energy being used at an even greater pace.

It is too early to say exactly how much effect the new ambitions will have.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


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