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With energy markets turmoil, IEA eyes faster renewables shift

By EARLE GALE | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-07 07:38

Recent turmoil around energy supplies has had massive impact on the world's transition to renewable energy, with nations ditching fossil fuels in favor of power generated by the wind, sun and oceans, the International Energy Agency said in an optimistic report.

The IEA increased its five-year predictions for renewable energy production by 30 percent over last year's estimate, saying there is now an unprecedented clamor for renewable energy worldwide.

"Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth, as countries seek to capitalize on their energy security benefits," Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said.

As a result, the IEA predicts wind, solar and hydro power combined will replace coal as the world's main electricity source by early 2025.

"The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the previous 20 years," Birol said. "This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point toward a cleaner and more secure future world energy system."

The IEA said the transition "is critical to help keep the door open to limiting global warming to 1.5 C", which is the amount nations believe can be tolerated before a full climate catastrophe.

The IEA's Renewables 2022 report said renewable power capacity will grow by 2,400 gigawatts between 2022 and 2027, adding that it is enough to power China.

With shortages of oil and gas attributed to the Russia-Ukraine conflict triggering huge energy price rises, the IEA said Europe has responded by planning to add twice as much renewable power capacity between 2022 and 2027 than in the previous five years.

And the IEA has high praise for China, the United States and India, which have become major growth regions for renewable energy, with China manufacturing 90 percent of the planet's renewable energy equipment. The IEA also said the equipment has helped ensure solar power to become the main source of energy generation in the coming years, with wind power also set to double in size during the next five years.

The IEA did, however, sound a note of caution, saying that even with huge improvements, the planet is still behind the curve in terms of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, which include limiting global warming to 1.5 C above preindustrial levels. But it said the world could get back on track to hit that target, and the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, if nations further accelerate the transition to renewables, and if planning, policy, and grid issues are tackled.

The IEA praised the way countries are increasingly eager to lead the way on renewable energy, battery technology and electric vehicles. The fact that governments are offering incentives, subsidies and support, including strong encouragement from China's government in its most recent five-year plan.

EARLE GALE in London


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