Renewable Energy Giant

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Renewable power generation will come to account for a third of the total by 2023, the International Energy Agency said in its latest report on the industry, Renewables 2018. More widely, renewable energy growth will represent 40 percent of overall global energy consumption growth, the authority said.

Surprisingly, the IEA expects the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the next five years to be bioenergy. “Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy field,” IEA’s head, Fatih Birol, said. “Its share in the world’s total renewables consumption is about 50% today, in other words as much as hydro, wind, solar and all other renewables combined. We expect modern bioenergy will continue to lead the field, and has huge prospects for further growth.”

Indeed, bioenergy has a brighter future because it is a lot more widely deployed in heating and transport than solar and wind—something that the IEA partially blames on lack of political support for solar and wind in heating and transport. The authority also sees a major untapped potential in bioenergy from waste as well as from the sugar, ethanol, and cement producing industries.

Though not dominant in these two sectors, solar power is the fastest-growing renewable source for electricity generation. Last year, PV installations accounted for more than a third of total renewable electricity generation capacity additions, at 97 GW out of a total 178 GW. Over the next five years, the IEA forecast, solar generation capacity will grow by an impressive 600 GW, to reach 1 TW in 2023. This growth will be higher than the growth in all other renewable electricity generation sources combined, the authority noted.

Wind, on the other hand, has been declining in terms of new installations, but it will remain the second-largest driver of total capacity growth, the IEA said, keeping its forecast for new wind capacity additions unchanged from last year’s forecast at 60 percent between 2018 and 2023. Offshore wind will grow the fastest, tripling over the next five years.

Irina Slav for OilPrice.com