Global renewable energy capacity is expected to grow as much over the next five years as it has over the past two decades, as soaring energy prices and the climate crisis force governments to move away from fossil fuels.
In a report released on Tuesday, the International Energy Agency predicts a sharp acceleration in renewable energy installations. It is now waiting for green energy overtake coal to become the world’s leading source of electricity by early 2025.
Global renewable energy capacity is now expected to increase by 2,400 gigawatts (GW) between 2022 and 2027, an amount equal to China’s total power generation capacity today, according to the report. The increase is 30% higher than the Paris-based agency forecast just a year ago.
“Renewables were already growing rapidly, but the global energy crisis has propelled them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to leverage their energy security advantages,” the executive director said. of the AIE, Fatih Birol, in a press release.
“This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system. The continued acceleration of renewable energy is essential to help keep the door open to limiting the global warming to 1.5°C,” he added.
Soaring prices for most energy sources, including oil, natural gas and coal, have fueled inflation around the world and highlighted the excessive dependence on imports of oil and natural gas from Russia.
According to the IEA report, the war in Ukraine is a “watershed moment for renewable energy in Europe”, where governments and companies are scrambling to replace Russian gas with alternatives.
The European Union now bans imports of Russian crude oil by sea, setting up the bloc to have eliminated 90% of oil imports from Russia by the end of the year. According to analysts, Russian natural gas flows by gas pipeline to Europe are only 20% of their pre-war level.
“The amount of renewable energy capacity added in Europe in the 2022-27 period is expected to be twice as high as in the previous five-year period, due to a combination of energy security concerns and climate ambitions,” the report said.
Policy and market reforms in China, the United States and India are also driving the growth of renewable energy. China is expected to account for almost half of the world’s new renewable energy capacity added between 2022 and 2027, according to the IEA report.
During this time, the The Biden administration’s Cut Inflation Act is expected to spur the expansion of renewable energy in the United States.
Most of the growth in renewables will come from investments in solar and wind power. Global solar generation capacity is expected to nearly triple over the next five years, with global wind capacity nearly doubling over that time.
“Together, wind and solar will account for more than 90% of the renewable energy capacity that will be added over the next five years,” the IEA said.
— Julia Horowitz contributed reporting.