- “renewable Revolution: How Solar And Wind Power Are Shaping The Electricity Landscape”
- Germany And The Green Power Revolution
- How India Can Kickstart A Green Energy Revolution
- Russian Invades Ukraine: Renewable Energy Revolution?
- Australia’s Rising Solar Power ‘revolution’
- The Renewable Energy Revolution Is Underway
- The Netherlands, Germany And Spain: Which European Countries Are Leading The Solar Revolution?
- Asia’s Renewable Energy Drive: Revolution Or Illusion?
“renewable Revolution: How Solar And Wind Power Are Shaping The Electricity Landscape” – Workers clean photovoltaic panels inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, India. Image credit: Reuters / Alamy Stock Photo.
The world’s best solar power systems now offer the “cheapest… electricity ever” as the technology is cheaper than coal and gas in most major countries.
“renewable Revolution: How Solar And Wind Power Are Shaping The Electricity Landscape”
That’s according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020 report. The 464-page forecast, released today by the IEA, also describes the “extraordinary” impact of the coronavirus and the “highly uncertain” future of global energy use over the next two years. decades
Germany And The Green Power Revolution
Reflecting this uncertainty, this year’s version of the highly influential annual forecast proposes four “pathways” to 2040, each of which predicts significant growth in renewables. The IEA’s baseline scenario projects 43% more solar energy by 2040 than expected in 2018, thanks in part to a detailed new analysis that shows solar energy is 20-50% cheaper than previously thought.
Despite faster growth in renewables and a “structural” decline for coal, the IEA says it is too early to declare a peak in global oil consumption unless stronger action is taken on climate change. In addition, it says that gas demand could increase by 30% by 2040 if the political response to global warming does not increase.
This means that while global CO2 emissions have effectively peaked, they are “far from the immediate peak and decline” needed to stabilize the climate. The IEA says achieving zero emissions will require “unprecedented” efforts from all parts of the global economy, not just the energy sector.
For the first time, the IEA includes detailed modeling of the 1.5C pathway that reaches global zero CO2 emissions by 2050. It said individual behavior change, such as working from home “three days a week”, would play an “important role”. role in achieving this new ‘net zero emissions case by 2050’ (NZE2050).
How India Can Kickstart A Green Energy Revolution
The IEA’s annual World Energy Review (WEO) is published every autumn and contains the most detailed and thorough analysis of the global energy system. In hundreds of densely packed pages, it draws on thousands of data points and the IEA’s global energy model.
The forecast includes several different scenarios to reflect the uncertainty around the many decisions that will affect the future path of the global economy, as well as the path out of the coronavirus crisis over the “critical” next decade. WEO also aims to inform policymakers by showing how their plans need to change if they are to move on to a more sustainable path.
This year, it omits the “current policy scenario” (CPS), which usually “provides a baseline … by outlining a future in which new policies are not added to those already in place.” This is because “it is hard to imagine this ‘business as usual’ approach prevailing in today’s circumstances.”
These circumstances are the unprecedented consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which remains highly uncertain as to its depth and duration. The crisis is expected to lead to a sharp decline in global energy demand in 2020, with fossil fuels taking the biggest hit.
Russian Invades Ukraine: Renewable Energy Revolution?
The WEO’s primary pathway is once again the ‘Stated Policy Scenario’ (STEPS, formerly NPS). This shows the impact of the government’s pledge to move beyond the current policy framework. Most importantly, however, the IEA makes its own assessment of whether governments are reliably meeting their targets.
“The steps are designed to take a detailed and dispassionate look at policies that are in place or announced in various parts of the energy sector. It takes into account long-term energy and climate goals only to the extent that they are supported by concrete policies and measures. In doing so, he mirrors the plans of today’s politicians and illustrates their consequences, without anticipating how those plans may change in the future.”
The forecast then shows how plans will need to be changed to chart a more sustainable path. It said its “sustainable development scenario” (SDS) was “fully consistent” with the Paris target of keeping warming “well below 2C… and continuing efforts to limit [it] to 1.5C”. (This interpretation is disputed.)
The SDS projects CO2 emissions to reach net zero by 2070 and gives a 50% chance of keeping warming to 1.65C, with the potential to stay below 1.5C if negative emissions are scaled.
Australia’s Rising Solar Power ‘revolution’
The IEA has not previously set out a detailed path to staying below 1.5C with a 50% chance, with last year’s forecast only offering preliminary analysis and some broad narrative paragraphs.
For the first time this year, the WEO presented a “detailed modelling” of the “Net Zero Emissions Case by 2050” (NZE2050). It shows what would have to happen for CO2 emissions to fall to 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, with a 50% chance of meeting the 1.5C limit.
The last path in this year’s forecast is the “delayed recovery scenario” (DRS), which shows what could happen if the coronavirus pandemic drags on and the global economy takes longer to recover, with accompanying reductions in GDP growth and energy demand. .
The chart below shows how the use of different energy sources for each of these pathways changes over the decade to 2030 (right columns) relative to demand today (left).
End Of Fossil Age’ Has Begun, Analysts Say
Left: Global primary energy demand by fuel type in 2019, million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe). Right: changes in demand up to 2030 by four paths in perspective. Source: IEA World Energy Outlook 2020.
Notably, renewables (light green) account for the majority of demand growth in all scenarios. In contrast, in fossil fuels, weaker growth is turning into a deeper decline as global climate policy ambition rises, from left to right in the chart above.
Intriguingly, there are signs that the IEA is giving more attention to SDS, a pathway aligned with the Paris “well below 2C” target. In WEO 2020, it appears more frequently, earlier in the report and more consistently across the pages compared to previous editions.
This is shown in the chart below, which shows the location, by relative page position, of every mention of the “sustainable development scenario” or “SDS” in the WEO published over the last four years.
The Renewable Energy Revolution Is Underway
Mentions of “sustainable development scenario” or “SDS” in the last four WEO reports by relative page position. Source: Brief analysis of the IEA World Energy Outlook 2020 and previous editions. Chart by Joe Goodman for Carbon Brief.
One of the most significant changes in this year’s WEO is hidden in Annex B of the report, which shows the IEA’s estimates of the cost of various electricity generation technologies.
The table shows that solar electricity today is about 20-50% cheaper than the IEA estimated in last year’s forecast, the range depends on the region. There are similarly significant reductions in estimated costs for onshore and offshore wind.
The change is the result of a new analysis by the WEO team that looks at the average “cost of capital” for developers looking to build new generating capacity. Previously, the IEA assumed a range of 7-8% for all technologies, which varied depending on the level of development of each country.
The Netherlands, Germany And Spain: Which European Countries Are Leading The Solar Revolution?
The IEA has now analyzed international data and found that the cost of capital for solar energy is significantly lower: 2.6-5.0% in Europe and the US, 4.4-5.5% in China and 8.8-10.0% in of India, mainly because the result of policies aimed at reducing the risk of investments in renewable energy sources.
In the best locations and with access to the most favorable policy support and financing, the IEA says, solar energy can now produce electricity “at or below” US$20 per megawatt-hour (MWh). He says:
“For low-cost financing projects using high-quality resources, solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.”
The IEA says new large-scale solar projects now cost US$30-60/MWh in Europe and the US and only US$20-40/MWh in China and India, where “income support mechanisms” such as guaranteed prices.
Asia’s Renewable Energy Drive: Revolution Or Illusion?
According to the IEA, these costs are “well below the LCOE [levelized cost] range for new coal-fired power plants” and “in the same range” as the operating costs of existing coal-fired power plants in China and India. This is shown in the diagram below.
Estimated levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from utility solar with income support relative to the range of LCOEs for gas and coal. Source: IEA World Energy Outlook 2020.
Onshore and offshore wind installations are also now expected to have access to cheaper financing. This explains the much lower cost estimates for these technologies in the latest WEO, as the capital cost is up to half the cost of new renewable developments.
Coupled with changes in government policy over the past year, these lower costs mean the IEA has once again raised its forecast for renewables for the next 20 years.
The Lebanese Foundation For Renewable Energy
This is shown in the chart below, where electricity generation from non-HPP renewable energy sources in 2040 will now reach 12,872 terawatt-hours (TWh) in STEPS, compared to 2,873 TWh today. This is about 8% higher than expected last year and 22% higher than the level expected in the 2018 forecast.
Global electricity production, by fuel type, terawatt hours. Historical data and STEPS from WEO 2020 are shown as solid lines, while WEO 2019 is shown as dotted lines and WEO 2018 is shown as dotted lines. Source: Carbon Brief Analysis of IEA World Energy Outlook 2020
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