October 13, 2020 Read More →

IEA’s Birol: Solar soon to be the ‘new king of the world’s electricity markets’

Bloomberg:

Renewables are set to overtake coal this decade as the world’s favorite fuel to generate electricity, the International Energy Agency says.

Solar photovoltaics are now cheaper than plants fired by coal and natural gas in most nations, the Paris-based researchers concludes in its annual report on global energy trends. Those cheaper costs along with government efforts to slash climate-damaging emissions will increasingly push coal off the grid and give renewables 80% of the market for new power generation by 2030, the IEA says.

The findings mark a profound shift away from fossil fuels in the world’s energy supply at a time when governments everywhere are looking for ways to rein in the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. While hydroelectric plants will continue to be the biggest source of renewable power, solar is catching up quickly because the cost of manufacturing and installing panels has come down so much.

“I see solar becoming the new king of the world’s electricity markets,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, says in a statement with the report on Tuesday. “Based on today’s policy settings, it’s on track to set new records for deployment every year after 2022.”

It also anticipates natural gas demand slowly easing in developed nations, especially Europe, and coal dropping everywhere. About 275 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity worldwide, 13% of the 2019 total, will be shut off by 2025, mostly in the U.S. and European Union. That will more than offset increases in coal demand in developing economies in Asia.

Coal’s share of the global power supply is set to fall to 28% in 2030 from 37% in 2019. By 2040, the fuel that once was a staple of utilities will fall below 20% for the first time since the industrial revolution, the IEA concludes. That decline could be even sharper if governments pick up the pace on decarbonization.

[Will Mathis and Jeremy Hodges]

More: Solar pushes aside coal as the cheapest fuel for power, IEA says

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