IEA Reports Dramatic Rise of Renewables

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) was founded after the 1973 oil crisis. The IEA is known as a conservative institution. Now it reports that renewable resources are catching up with coal… catching up and poised to eclipse coal as the world’s largest source of electricity.

Right now, 22% of world’s electricity comes from clean sources, predominantly hydro, wind, and solar. Currently, coal supplies 29% of the global energy mix. By 2018, renewables will surpass natural gas power generation, and will produce twice as much as nuclear plants. China’s total energy mix is 40% renewables, one of the highest percentages in the world. Denmark is leading the way among the nations of the world, generating 44% of the nation’s power requirement with renewables. By 2022, Denmark plans to get 77% of its power from renewables.

The IEA reports that 700 GW of renewables will be added in next five years. By 2020, 26% of the world’s electricity will be generated from renewables. By 2022, renewables will provide 30% of worldwide power generation. IEA calls the dramatic rise in global renewables “a remarkable shift in a very limited period of time.”

Hydroelectricity provides the most renewable generation; solar has experienced the fastest rate of growth. But solar “capacity” is a bit deceptive since solar only provides the resource when the sun shines. Only a portion of a solar system’s nameplate capacity turns into electricity. IEA defines intermittent sources as “Variable Renewable Energy,” resources that can’t be switched on and off as needed.