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IEA: Renewables set for 50% growth by 2024 as ‘spectacular’ solar comes of age

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Worldwide renewable electricity generation could soar by 50% over the next five years driven by “spectacular” growth in global solar installations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.

Figures included within the 2019 edition of the IEA’s Renewables market report state that total renewables capacity will increase from 2.5TW to 3.7TW within by 2024 as costs come down.

This year’s edition of the IEA’s annual Renewables Report states that within the next five years, the world’s total renewables capacity will grow by 50%, an increase of around 1,200GW. This figure, the report states, is equivalent to the current total power generation capacity of the United States.

That increase is to be driven primarily by continued technology cost reductions and government policy. Furthermore, solar PV is set to be the chief contributor to that increase, responsible for around 60% of the rise.

The IEA said that solar PV installs are to soar in the coming years, with residential and C&I installs in particular “set to take off” and transform the way electricity is generated and consumed. Distributed solar generation such as this accounts for nearly half of solar PV growth over the next five year’s within the IEA’s projections.

Fatih Birol, chief executive at the IEA, described small-scale solar’s potential as “breath taking”, but stressed that its development needs to be “well managed” in order to balance the needs of system owners against other consumers and energy and distribution companies.


Analysis: Mark Osborne, senior news editor, PV Tech

Historically, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) global solar market forecasts have seriously downplayed actual annual installation figures and as such should come with a warning notice to that fact.

The IEA has just released its five-year forecast for renewable energy, including solar, yet again there are some key areas that need highlighting from an industry health warning perspective.

Based on IEA’s presentation for its five-year forecast, solar photovoltaics (PV) is expected to add close to 700GW of new installations from 2019 through to 2024. However, based on IEA’s press release, noting that PV would account for 60% of 1,200GW of total renewable energy installs, PV would account for around 720GW of installations in this period.

Just taking the 700GW figure from the presentation material, means that PV installs would average 140GW per annum through the five-year forecast. According to BloombergNEF’s Q2 2019 forecast (low forecast) scenario, PV installs through 2021 are not expected to be any higher than 124GW per annum and average out at 121GW over the three-year period.

Mark's full analysis of the IEA's 2019 report can be read on sister publication PV Tech here.


But it is not all good news. While this year’s Renewables Report does indeed point to an unprecedented increase in capacity, the industry would still not move fast enough to meet worldwide climate targets.

“Renewables are already the world's second largest source of electricity, but their deployment still needs to accelerate if we are to achieve long-term climate, air quality and energy access goals,” Birol said.

The report points to three specific challenges that will need to be surpassed to accelerate renewables deployment sufficiently, namely political and regulatory uncertainty, high investment risks and the integration of wind and solar PV on electricity systems.

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