The deployment of renewable energy is expected to accelerate over the course of the next 5 years, overtaking power generation from coal and gas by 2024. New IEA data indicates that solar, now the cheapest energy source of all time, will lead the way to a clean energy future. That progress could be empowered even further by US President-Elect Joe Biden, who is expected to enter the Oval Office with a $2 trillion climate agenda.
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This week, the International Environmental Agency (IEA) released several blockbuster predictions for the next half decade of renewable energy development.
Data in the report, titled Renewables 2020, projects a 1,123 gigawatt (GW) increase in wind and solar. That would mean these power sources overtake gas capacity in 2023 and coal in 2024.
In their main case, the IEA has wind, solar, hydro and other renewable sources accounting for 95% of the increase in the world’s electricity generating capacity over the next five years. Solar capacity is set to be the key driver of this trend.
As CarbonBrief notes, 130GW of solar could be added each year between 2023-2025, rising to to 165GW in the accelerated scenario, which would account for nearly 60% of the total renewable expansion across this period. Electricity generation costs from utility scale solar are expected to fall 36% during that time.
In the IEA’s October World Energy Outlook, they anointed solar power the “new king” of global electricity markets after becoming the cheapest form of electricity in history.
For utility-scale solar projects completed this year, the average cost of electricity generation over the lifetime of the plant (called the levelized cost of electricity) was between $35 to $55 per MWh in some of the world’s biggest markets — the US, Europe, China, and India. The cost for coal, in comparison, currently ranges between about $55 and $150 per MWh (megawatt hours).
Global solar panel demand will grow by around 15% and reach a total capacity of 143.7 GW in 2021, according to Taiwanese market research company PV Infolink. “China, which will enter the grid parity era under the 14th five-year plan, is expected to see…