IEA Expects Over 90 GW New Solar In 2020

IEA: First Annual Decline In New Renewable Energy Additions In 2020 With COVID-19 Impact; Expects Solar To Add Over 90 GW To Estimated 167 GW Renewable Energy This Year
04:38 AM (Beijing Time) - 21. May 2020

Pandemic related challenges are expected to pull down solar PV capacity additions in 2020 to around 90 GW which means a decline of 18% from last year, according to IEA, making it by far the lowest estimate among solar forecasts for 2020 so far.

Key Takeaways

  • IEA expects renewables growth to come down for the first time in 2020 in last 20 years due to COVID-19
  • The decline is estimated at 13% annually to 167 GW to which solar will add over 90 GW, it says
  • Distributed solar is to take a hit especially but large-scale solar will likely rebound in 2021 as delayed projects come online
  • Governments need to consider renewables for stimulus packages and introduce friendly policies to spur the growth of this industry

The International Energy Agency (IEA) sees the COVID-19 pandemic pulling down the growth of renewable energy globally this year by 13% annually to a total of 167 GW making 2020 the first year to witness an annual decline in new renewable additions in the past 2 decades. In its Renewable Market Update, it reported that the crisis is ‘hurting but not halting’ global growth in renewable power capacity and that the sector will rebound in 2021 provided there is policy certainty to ensure investor confidence.

Solar PV is likely to settle over 90 GW in 2020, declining by 18% from 110 in 2019, as per the IEA; yet it will account for more than half of the forecast expansion in renewables in 2020 and 2021. The decline will be majorly due to possible delays in construction as a result of supply chain disruptions, lockdown measures and emerging financing challenges.

“But despite the slowdown in new additions, overall global renewable power capacity still grows by 6% in 2020, surpassing the total power capacity of North America and Europe combined,” states the report.

Next year, large-scale PV projects are expected to rebound as delayed projects start coming online, but overall installations won’t be able to match 2019 levels due to slow recovery of distributed solar PV. And these post-COVID issues are added to existing challenges related to financing, policy uncertainty and grid integration in several markets, it adds in the report.

Batting for government stimulus packages for the renewables segment in the light of the pandemic, IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol said, “The spectacular growth and cost reductions of renewables over the past two decades have been a big success story for global energy markets, driven by innovation in both technology and policies. But continuing cost declines will not be enough to protect renewables from a range of uncertainties that are being exacerbated by COVID-19. This underlines the critical importance of getting stimulus packages and policy strategies right in order to ensure investor confidence in the months and years ahead.”

Together, solar PV and wind power will likely account for 86% of global renewable capacity additions in 2020, as per the IEA. For wind power, the annual decline is also forecasted by 18%.  Beyond these 2 technologies, other renewables with long lead times suh as hydropower, offshore wind, CSP and geothermal will see limited negative impacts of COVID-19.

The agency’s estimates for solar PV installations in 2020 are the lowest among the forecasts offered by solar analysts so far (see PV InfoLink Lowers 2020 Solar Demand To 108.8 GW).

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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Anu Bhambhani