Renewables growth stalls – IEA report

9 May 2019

An unexpected flattening of growth in the renewables energy sector has raised concerns about meeting long term climate goals, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports.

The IEA says that after nearly two decades of strong annual growth in renewables around the world, as much net capacity was added in 2018 as in 2017. The break in the trend raises concerns about the ability of the global community to reach long-term climate goals.

According to the IEA, 2018 was the first time since 2001 that growth in renewable power capacity failed to increase year on year. New net capacity from solar PV, wind, hydro, bioenergy, and other renewable power sources increased by about 180 GW in 2018, the same as the previous year. “That’s only around 60 per cent of the net additions needed each year to meet long-term climate goals,” the IEA said in a statement.

Renewable capacity additions need to grow by over 300 GW on average each year between 2018 and 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS).

The IEA’s analysis shows the world is not doing enough. Last year, energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 per cent to a historic high of 33 Gt. Despite a growth of 7 per cent in renewables electricity generation, emissions from the power sector grew to record levels, the IEA said.

“The world cannot afford to press ‘pause’ on the expansion of renewables and governments need to act quickly to correct this situation and enable a faster flow of new projects,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “Thanks to rapidly declining costs, the competitiveness of renewables is no longer heavily tied to financial incentives. What they mainly need are stable policies supported by a long-term vision but also a focus on integrating renewables into power systems in a cost-effective and optimal way. Stop-and-go policies are particularly harmful to markets and jobs.”

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