RE to outstrip gas by 2016 – IEA

Renewables will outstrip gas in their share of global power generation by 2016, according to latest forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA says global renewable power generation is expected to grow by 40% over the next five years to 6,850TWh “despite a difficult economic context”.

Renewables are the fastest-growing power source and will account for almost a quarter of generation by 2018, claims the IEA.

The body’s latest Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR) predicts that as soon as 2016 renewable generation – including hydro – will exceed that from gas and be double that from nuclear.

The MTRMR, released today in New York, says the share of non-hydro renewables will double to 8% by 2018, up from 4% in 2011 and 2% in 2006.

Wind, solar and other non-hydro sources are also becoming cost-competitive in a range of contexts, notes the IEA.

The organization says: “For example, wind competes well with new fossil-fuel power plants in several markets, including Brazil, Turkey and New Zealand.

"Solar is attractive in markets with high peak prices for electricity, for instance, those resulting from oil-fired generation. Decentralised solar photovoltaic generation costs can be lower than retail electricity prices in a number of countries,” it adds.

However, the IEA also flagged up challenges, including increased questioning of support for renewables in some key economies.

IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said: “Many renewables no longer require high economic incentives. But they do still need long-term policies that provide a predictable and reliable market and regulatory framework compatible with societal goals.”

However, van der Hoeven was generally upbeat about the future for renewables. “As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” she said.

Rapid deployment in emerging markets, led by China, is expected to make up for more sluggish deployment in more mature economies and drive renewables forward, the IEA predicts.