Renewables to be bulk of energy capacity growth 2021-22 - IEA

Author: Morgan Condon


LONDON (ICIS)--Renewables are expected to account for 90% of total global capacity increases in both 2021 and 2022, according the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s report published on Tuesday.

An additional 270GW capacity of renewable energy is expected to become operational this year, with a further 280GW in 2022, surpassing the previous record-level annual capacity additions of 2017-2019 by more than 50%.

Although new wind capacity is expected to decrease in 2021-2022 following significant expansions in China last year, capacity is still expected to be 35% higher than in 2019, with 80GW of annual installations anticipated globally.

The slower rate of wind capacity additions will be partly offset by  increased solar photovoltaic (PV) rollout, on lower investment costs and ongoing policy support.

Solar capacity is expected to account for more than 55% of all renewable energy expansions in 2021 and 2022, reaching 145GW in 2021 and 162GW in 2022.

Growth in hydropower facilities through 2022 will be driven by the commissioning of mega-scale projects in China.

Other renewables including bioenergy are set to remain stable, accounting for 3% of total new renewable capacity additions.

Despite erosion caused by the pandemic, renewables were the only energy source to mark an increased demand in 2020, growing 45% year on year, the biggest rise since 1999.

Most projects – almost 150GW – were commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020, more than double than in the same period previous year, and exceeded the number of installations in the first three quarters of 2020.

Production in the energy-intensive chemicals industry is challenged globally by increasing emissions-based regulations and sparse supply of affordable renewable energy.

Some markets in the chemicals industry also feed the renewable supply chain, as products such as polymers, composites and coatings will be needed to produce further capacity.

Thumbnail picture: A solar farm in California. Source: Jassen Todorov/Solent News/Shutterstock