High fuel prices, energy security concerns drive surge in renewables: research

Source: BY JULIA MUELLER, The Hill • Posted: Sunday, June 4, 2023

FILE – IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol delivers his speech at the opening session of the International Energy Agency (IEA) ministerial meeting, March 23, 2022 in Paris. Birol and Ukraine’s Minister of Energy German Galushchenko have signed today, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Warsaw, Poland, the documents for Ukraine to become an Association country of the International Energy Agency, with both sides agreeing that a closer cooperation will help Europe to face what they expect to be a hard winter for the energy sector due to Russia’s aggressive policy. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

High fuel prices and energy security concerns are among the factors driving a surge in renewable energy capacity, led by solar power, according to new research from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“Solar and wind are leading the rapid expansion of the new global energy economy. This year, the world is set to add a record-breaking amount of renewables to electricity systems – more than the total power capacity of Germany and Spain combined,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in the report released Thursday.

Additions of renewable power globally are expected to go up by a third this year and continue next year, bringing the global total renewable electricity capacity to 4,500 gigawatts, “equal to the total power output of China and the United States combined,” according to the report.

“This unprecedented growth is being driven by expanding policy support, growing energy security concerns and improving competitiveness against fossil fuel alternatives. These factors are outweighing rising interest rates, higher investment costs and persistent supply chain challenges,” the research found.

China is in the lead, forecasted to account for almost 55 percent of global additions of renewable power capacity in 2023 and 2024. The report also notes accelerating renewables growth in Europe, and policy measures pushing increases in the U.S. and India over that same period.

Two-thirds of this year’s increase are expected to be solar photovoltaic, as higher electricity prices prompt faster solar PV growth for rooftops.

Wind power additions are set to grow by almost 70 percent year-over-year as projects delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic are completed, and as some supply chain issues subside.

Birol said the global energy crisis has proved renewables are “critical for making energy supplies not just cleaner but also more secure and affordable.” He also said governments are now working to deploy renewables more rapidly.

“But achieving stronger growth means addressing some key challenges. Policies need to adapt to changing market conditions, and we need to upgrade and expand power grids to ensure we can take full advantage of solar and wind’s huge potential,” Birol added.

The Associated Press contributed.