Covid-19 to “hurt but not halt” renewable power capacity growth

Yoana Cholteeva 21 May 2020 (Last Updated May 21st, 2020 10:47)

Covid-19 to “hurt but not halt” renewable power capacity growth
The decline will most likely be caused by delays in construction activity, lockdown measures, and social distancing guidelines. Source: Ulrike Leone by Pixabay

A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), has found that the world is set to build fewer wind turbines, solar plants, and other renewable energy installations this year, because of the impact of Covid-19. However, their growth is expected to resume next year, backed by supportive government policies.

According to the IEA’s Renewable Market Update report, released today, renewable power sources have so far shown resilience, amid the disruptions and changes caused by the pandemic, with 167GW of renewable power capacity planned to be installed this year, which is a 13% decrease from 2019.

The decline will most likely be caused by possible delays in construction activity, lockdown measures, and social distancing guidelines, as well as emerging financing challenges. Along with delays in new additions, overall global renewable power capacity will still grow by 6% in 2020, which surpasses the total power capacity of North America and Europe combined.

IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol said: “Countries are continuing to build new wind turbines and solar plants, but at a much slower pace. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the world needed to significantly accelerate the deployment of renewables to have a chance of meeting its energy and climate goals.

“Amid today’s extraordinary health and economic challenges, governments must not lose sight of the essential task of stepping up clean energy transitions to enable us to emerge from the crisis on a secure and sustainable path.”

According to the report, in 2021, renewable power additions are forecast to rebound to the level reached in 2019, with significant support coming from the partial commissioning of two mega hydropower projects in China. While the rebound would make a big difference, growth for 2020 and 2021 combined is expected to be 10% lower than the IEA had estimated before the Covid-19 outbreak.