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Montevideo, November 20th 2018 - 11:36 UTC

Renewable energy overtakes coal in electricity generation capacity; half a million solar panels installed every day

Friday, October 28th 2016 - 12:23 UTC
Full article 6 comments
Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro are seen as a key element in international efforts to combat climate change. Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro are seen as a key element in international efforts to combat climate change.
IEA's Executive Director Fatih Birol said “We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables” IEA's Executive Director Fatih Birol said “We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables”
The report says policy changes in China, India, US and Mexico have been important forces behind the increased forecast for the growth of the sector. The report says policy changes in China, India, US and Mexico have been important forces behind the increased forecast for the growth of the sector.

The International Energy Agency said in its latest report that last year the world's capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources has now overtaken coal, and renewable accounted for more than half of the increase in power capacity.

 The report says half a million solar panels were installed every day last year around the world and in China, there were two wind turbines set up every hour.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro are seen as a key element in international efforts to combat climate change. At this stage, it is the capacity to generate power that has overtaken coal, rather than the amount of electricity actually produced.

Renewable energy is intermittent - it depends on the sun shining or the wind blowing, for example, unlike coal which can generate electricity 24 hours a day all year round. So renewable technologies inevitably generate a lot less than their capacity.

IEA's Executive Director Fatih Birol said “We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables” The expansion of renewable capacity reflects cost reductions for onshore wind and solar panels that the report describes as impressive; reductions that would have been “unthinkable just five years ago”.

The IEA expects the trend of declining costs to continue and those two technologies are likely to account for three quarters of future growth in renewables. Hydropower will continue growing, the report says, but it is likely to do so more slowly than before.

Declining costs are also one reason the agency has increased its forecast for renewable capacity in the future. Another factor mentioned by the report is government policies that provide financial incentives for using renewable power sources.

The United States, for example, has extended tax credits. The report says policy changes in China, India and Mexico have also been important forces behind the increased forecast for the growth of the sector.

The IEA says the centre of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets. China, the report says, “remains the undisputable global leader of renewable energy expansion, representing close to 40% of growth”.

However, “even these higher expectations remain modest compared with the huge untapped potential of renewables”, said Birol.

And in other areas of energy use, beyond electricity, renewables have made less impressive inroads. In transport and heating “progress in renewables penetration… remains slow”, the report says.

Top Comments

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  • Marti Llazo

    So where is Argentina in this game? The last numbers I have for electrical generation here, rounded. The numbers apparently include some of the electricity supplied to Argentina from Paraguay and Chile. The new coal-burning plant at Río Turbio turned out to be an expensive and massive Kirchnerist failure since not enough of the local low-grade coal was being produced to successfully operate the turbines.

    Natural gas (much of which is now imported) about 46 percent
    Nuclear about 4 percent
    Hydro about 36 percent
    Diesel (much of it from imports) about 13 percent
    Solar+wind+biomass less than 1 percent

    Oct 28th, 2016 - 01:33 pm 0
  • DonMateo

    The problem in Argentina is the massive import duties on solar panels. I live in Mendoza and for a couple of years I have been looking at getting solar panels on my house but a 300watt panel anywhere else in the world is a hundred bucks or so. In Argentina is about 400bucks. Ie the same price it was about 5 years ago.

    Which is a shame as Argentina has excellent solar resources. Oh well they will learn sooner or later. My money is on later.

    Oct 29th, 2016 - 02:15 pm 0
  • Marti Llazo

    We needed to install electrical generation for one of the puesteros who was located where bringing in a diesel generator and fuel was impractical, so we went with a combination of wind turbine (this is the Patagonia, after all) and solar panels. The kit would have been stupidly expensive here in Argentina even if delivery could have been accomplished, which was unlikely any time soon. We ended up finding almost the entire set of wind and solar power generation equipment at the Zona Franca down in Chile, at the “Recasur” shop (not coincidentally where our Islander friends get some of their materials). We have an arrangement with a chileno supplier who does delivery to us in Río Gallegos by “taking the long way around” via a frontier crossing where the Argentine gendarmes are completely unwilling to leave their warm office to inspect incoming small chileno vehicles. That process is only viable for high-cost purchases at the ZF since it takes that driver an entire day to complete the delivery. But even with that expense it cost us less than one half of what the component costs would have been if the items could have been had in Argentina. The only major items we ended up buying here in Río Gallegos were the storage batteries, switches, wiring, and installation poles.

    Oct 29th, 2016 - 03:06 pm 0
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