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Renewable power development will skyrocket over the next five years

Wind turbines and solar panels in a field.
Image Credit: Wix

Fossil fuel free renewable energy development is expected to skyrocket over the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency.

The unprecedented growth in renewable energy from sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower could top 2,400 gigawatts (that's enough to power 1.8 billion homes).

That means by 2027, renewables will represent nearly 40% of the entire global supply of energy -- followed by natural gas at about 20% of the energy mix.

If the IEA projections hold up, that means dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over a five year period.

The figure represents 85% more renewable energy than the previous five year period, according to the International Energy Agency (the global research and analysis firm responsible for monitoring worldwide energy consumption).

In all, roughly 90% of the world's new energy projects are expected to be coming from solar and wind, according to the agency.

And almost all of that growth will come from China, the European Union, the United States and India, the agency said.

China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and market reforms, the REPowerEU plan and the US Inflation Reduction Act are the main drivers of the revised forecasts.

IEA, Upward revisions to renewable capacity expansion forecasts from Renewables 2021 to Renewables 2022, IEA, Paris, IEA. Licence: CC BY 4.0
IEA, Upward revisions to renewable capacity expansion forecasts from Renewables 2021 to Renewables 2022, IEA, Paris, IEA. Licence: CC BY 4.0

A tremendous amount of that renewable energy will come from solar power, which is projected to surpass coal as the largest source of power by 2027.

Overall solar PV capacity almost triples in the IEA forecast, growing by almost 1 500 GW over the period, exceeding natural gas by 2026 and coal by 2027, according to the IEA report.

The reasons for this incredible surge in renewable energy growth are threefold.

In Europe, the war in Ukraine accelerated policy decisions that were already underway making the energy transition a strategic priority for the EU's defense in addition to a global priority.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act has created longterm assurances around energy development and opened the door to hundreds of billions in federal funding for renewable development, energy efficiency and national electrification.

Finally, India has set a goal to develop 500 gigawatts of non-fossil energy capacity by 2030 -- and solar power is expected to be a large component of that growth.

The International Energy Agency estimates that India and the United States will spend nearly $25 billion through 2027 -- a nearly sevenfold increase over the previous five year period. India's Production Limited Incentives initiative will allow solar manufacturers to close the price gap with their lower-cost Chinese competitors, while manufacturing tax credits in the U.S. will also put companies making solar panels here within striking distance of China's low-cost solar panels.

“Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to capitalise on their energy security benefits. The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next 5 years as it did in the previous 20 years,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, in a statement. “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system. Renewables’ continued acceleration is critical to help keep the door open to limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.”

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