COVID-19 to hurt but not halt renewable energy growth says IEA

James Marshall
May 21, 2020

The global growth of renewable energy will slow for the first time in 20 years due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which will "hurt but not halt" the rise of clean energy.

But, the report said, overall global renewable power capacity will grow by 6% in 2020.

Birol said the resilience of the renewables industry can not be taken for granted, and warned governments against reining in clean energy spending to weather the looming economic crisis wrought by the coronavirus.

Still, IEA anticipates that utility-scale projects will rebound because majority in the pipeline are already financed and under construction.

The IEA report said it was essential that governments provide policy predictability, which they could do through ambitious targets and objectives, reduce administrative barriers to renewables, and put renewables at the centre of stimulus packages.

Solar accounts for more than half of the forecast expansion in renewable power in 2020 and 2021, but additions decline to over 90GW in 2020 from 110GW in 2019.

Residential solar installations will take longer to rebound from the COVID-19 slowdown than most renewables, making it unlikely solar PV will surpass 2019 levels over the next year.

Rooftop solar, however, will see slower recovery as households and small businesses review investments, IEA said.

Part of the decline this year will be made up in 2021 as projects that were delayed catch up. The report notes renewables' "low operating costs and priority access to the grid in many markets".

The agency said governments have the opportunity to reverse the trend by making investment in renewables a key part of stimulus packages created to reinvigorate their economies.

"Some countries are already actively doing this", it says.

Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, praised the resilience of renewable electricity as good news, but warned that it can not be taken for granted.

The world's energy watchdog has warned that developers will build fewer wind farms and solar energy projects this year compared with a record roll out of renewables in 2019. "But if [support schemes] are postponed or cancelled it will be a serious hit for the growth of renewables, which we need badly to meet our climate goals".

"The continued decline in renewable energy costs alone will not be enough to shelter the industry from the current crisis".

"This underlines the critical importance of getting stimulus packages and policy strategies right in order to ensure investor confidence in the months and years ahead".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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