For the first time in two decades, renewable power generated from wind and solar is set to fall. The construction of new wind and solar farms are being delayed by factory closures, workers’ needs for social distancing. Also, there are developers’ financial concerns as they emerge from the coronavirus crisis, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The world is set to add 167 gigawatts of renewable power capacity this year, which is 13% less than in 2019. It is a reality check for a sector that has seen only growth for years. Especially one that emerged relatively unscathed from the plunge in energy demand that has hit the oil and gas business.
According to Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director “The continued decrease in the cost and increasing competitiveness of wind and solar alone will not shelter renewables from the economic downturn”. Furthermore, it is critical that governments step in with support to ensure renewable energy sources continue to grow.
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A part of the decline this year will be made up in 2021 as projects that were delayed catch up. This will see the level of new renewable power return to 2019 levels. However, it will still be about 10% below what the IEA had previously forecast for this year and 2021.
A big part of the drop is also because of an anticipated decline in smaller-scale solar installations put up on people’s homes and businesses. Those are set to fall by almost 36% this year, mainly in Europe, China and the U.S., as those smaller players cut back on investments.
As of 2018, renewable power made up 26.2 percent of global electricity generation. That figure is expected to rise to 45 percent by 2040.