COP21: IEA urges strong deal in Paris to accelerate renewables growth

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The International Energy Agency has called for a strong agreement at the COP21 climate talks in Paris later this year as the best means of accelerating renewable energy deployment beyond current projections.

The IEA’s ‘Medium-Term Renewable Energy Report 2015’ forecasts renewable energy to be the single biggest source of electricity growth between now and 2020, driven by falling costs and “aggressive” deployment in emerging markets.

By 2020, the IEA’s conservative estimate is that renewable energy will account for two-thirds of all new power generation, taking its total share of global capacity from 22% today to 26% in 2020. PV will account for one-third of this deployment, only narrowly missing out to offshore wind as the fastest-growing renewable energy source over the next five years, according to the IEA.

But the IEA said its “main case” forecast was “not as fast as it could be” and would fall short of what is needed to put renewables on track to meet longer term climate change objectives.

Its report goes on to outline an “accelerated case” for renewables, in which “enhanced” policies would be put in place to drive an additional 25% growth in renewables.

The IEA said policy areas requiring greater clarity and coherence included the fate of the investment tax credit and the implementation of the Clean Energy Plan in the US, clearer policies on grid integration of renewables in areas such as Japan and Europe and “fair” rate design rules for PV in the US and Europe.

“Policies to spur an accelerated renewable growth profile, as described here, would put the global power system on a firmer path to limit the long-term global average temperature increase to 2°C,” the IEA report said, adding that a supportive outcome from the COP21 talks in Paris could create a “virtuous cycle” for renewable deployment.

With the right policy support, the IEA estimates annual global investment in renewables could reach US$315 billiion by 2020, helping increase deployment by 25% on top of its main case scenario.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said: “Renewables are poised to seize the crucial top spot in global power supply growth, but this is hardly time for complacency. Governments must remove the question marks over renewables if these technologies are to achieve their full potential, and put our energy system on a more secure, sustainable path.”

To browse PV Tech's pre-COP21 coverage, please click here.

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