Energy : the solar catches up to the coal

The numbers are more spectacular. But they result in constant evolution for several years. As is revealed in the report of the international energy Agency (IEA) published 4 October, for the sixth consecutive year, the production capacity of renewable energies installed are more important than those of the past year.

165 gigawatts, consisting of 80% wind and solar, are thus entered into service in 2016. That’s 6% more than in 2015, and this represents two-thirds of the new electric capacity. In 15 years, the global production capacity for green energy has been multiplied by eight.

The sun passes in front of the wind

This latest report highlights the growing role of solar energy, and confirms that always more critical of China.

With 74 GW installed by 2016, which is two times more than in 2015, the pv is better than wind energy (+ 52 GW, down 20%), and most importantly, for the first time, passes in front of the coal (+ 57 GW).

In China, the capacity of solar increased by 800 in the past 10 years, which makes it the first market in the world ahead of the United States. At the end of this year, the country will have exceeded the goals it had set for 2020 for solar (and 2019 for the wind). Chinese demand weighs half of the global demand, and 60% of the volume of solar panels manufactured.

Multiply the uses

Overall, renewables weigh in at 26% of the electricity mix globally, which is already an issue of integration to the networks, all the more that this share is largely made up of wind and solar intermittent energy. This involves not only strengthened networks and an increasing number of interconnections, but also reforms of the organization of markets and regulatory frameworks. But the agency reminds that the electricity is only 20% of the final demand in energy. Increased electrical use in the building, industry and transport is needed to fulfill a true energy transition.

China makes rain and good weather

For the next five years, the IEA has again revised its forecast upward, anticipating between 920 and 1150 GW of green energy additional. Either a combined capacity of 43% larger than today and a weight of only two times lower than that of the fleet of coal-fired power plants, that has made eighty-four years to settle. China is expected to represent 40% of this growth. This is why the way she was going to handle the end of the feed-in tariffs and the issues of grid integration will have an impact on the world market. Europe, on the other hand, will see its growth fall by 40% in comparison to the past five years, as demand has slowed, a situation of overcapacity and a lack of visibility regarding tenders over the period. Wind and solar pv will always be 80% of new capacity installed. Regarding solar, it will mainly (75%) of plants in the soil. Under the effect of a generalization of the auction (that is, 20% of the current volume should increase to 50% in 2022), the costs will continue to decline in the next five years, 25% for photovoltaics (where they have already been divided by ten in ten years, reaching 3 cents per kilowatt-hour in many calls for tenders), 15% for onshore wind and 33% for offshore wind.

Not more than 1% of the consumption related to electric vehicles

One of the major lessons of these forecasts relates to facilities not connected to the network. They should represent in 2022, nearly 3 GW, and thus giving clean energy access to 70 million more people.

The coal will, in cumulation, the main source of electricity production (35%), but the gap with renewable energy will be reduced.

On A global scale, renewables will account for 29% of the electricity mix by 2022. But this figure will rise to 70% in Denmark and over 25% in several european countries. Their share will double in China and India to exceed 10%.

In transport, the share of renewable energy should not pass that 4% to 5% by 2022. And this will be mainly through the development of biofuels. Concerning electric vehicles, which the IEA sees the amount to double in five years, their consumption should not exceed 1% of global electricity demand.

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