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IEA: Renewables Set For Explosive Growth

IEA: Renewables Set For Explosive Growth

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Renewable energy is growing at a blistering rate, but clean energy is also nowhere near what is needed to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, according to a series of new monumental reports on the global energy system.

Renewable energy accounted for half of the increase in new electricity generation in 2017, a remarkable feat, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). By 2023, renewables will account for 12.4 percent of total global energy demand (not just for electricity), a sign that the adoption of wind and solar around the world is gaining steam. In the transport sector, electric vehicles and electric buses triple over the next few years.

Solar and wind are the cheapest option in a growing number of places around the world and EV sales are skyrocketing.

Here are a few more staggering statistics. Between 2017 and 2023, renewables will cover a full 40 percent of the additional growth in energy consumption. And by 2023, renewables will account for nearly a third of total electricity generation worldwide.

Solar PV will move front and center over the next few years, the IEA argues. Solar PV is expected to grow by 600 gigawatts through 2023, having already jumped by 97 GW last year. That 600 GW is equivalent to twice the size of Japan’s entire capacity.

Within the solar sector, distributed solar “makes the difference,” the IEA says. Without the distributed solar projects, solar’s expansion would be equal that of wind. But a growing number of commercial, industrial and residential applications are putting more solar panels at the local level.

Behind this explosive growth for renewables is the dramatic cost declines that make renewables increasingly the cheapest option. “For the first time, more than half of renewable electricity capacity is expected to be commissioned through competitive auctions, which continue to slash wind and solar PV bid prices to between USD 20 per megawatt hour (MWh) and USD 50/MWh,” the IEA wrote.

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