Years ago the International Energy Agency and its annual World Energy Outlook were downplaying the exponential growth of both solar photovoltaic and wind energy. This was all the more awkward when anyone could see that the growth was indeed exponential.
Not anymore as the IEA now states that global renewable power capacity growth is set to double over the next five years. In other words, between now and 2027, we will collectively install as much wind power and solar pv capacity than we did in the past twenty years, or 2,400 GW. By 2025, renewables will be the largest source of electricity in the world, taking over coal. By 2027, solar photovoltaic alone will be taking over coal in terms of installed capacity.
This is so exciting. This growth is projected to be 30% higher than the growth forecast last year. High prices for both fossil gas and oil are among the reasons. New policies promoting more renewables in the United States, India and China are also mentioned. For the European Union, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought renewed urgency to the end of fossil fuels.
Both solar photovoltaic and wind have gone from being a fringe market, then a niche market and are now becoming truly mainstream. These are great news as both solar and wind slash the need for fossil gas and coal. Just this summer, solar photovoltaïc prevented the European Union from 29 billion euros in gas imports. Not bad at all for something that doesn’t run 24/7 and is constantly despised by climate deniers and
Energy storage is now storing massive amounts of excess electricity and it’s only the beginning. The US will install 30 GW/111 GWh of grid-scale energy storage by 2025. In Western Australia, an enormous 1-GW/4-GWh battery will be installed over 31 acres (12.5 ha) to stabilize the grid and make the most of the solar capacity installed there. Closer to home, in Belgium, the largest energy storage facility in Europe has begun operating.
All of this is exciting and should be accelerated. And, yet something of absolute importance is missing : we won’t solve our climate crises, nor will we end energy poverty without changing how our societies are running. Halving per capita energy use in rich countries through energy efficiency, conservation and sobriety should be a minimum.
In its most recent report on energy efficiency, the IEA is noting that “global investments in energy efficiency – such as building renovations, public transport and electric car infrastructure – reached USD 560 billion in 2022, an increase of 16% on 2021, according to the IEA’s latest market report“.
More is necessary. Energy poverty concerns 34 to 50 million people in the European Union alone. That’s 10 percent of the population. Weatherizing and insulating homes is key. Switching our transportation to less cars and more bikes is necessary. Everyone can act. The future starts today.
Image credits : Unsplash, Robert Linder.