Renewable energy is increasingly becoming the dominant source of power over the last decade and is expected to become the world’s main source of power by 2030.
A record 261 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity was installed in 2020, twice the capacity added globally the year before. Solar energy continues to lead the expansion of renewables with 127GW increase followed by Wind energy with 111GW increase. Solar and Wind energy combined accounts for 91% of all renewable energy capacity added, both having the highest annual increase ever seen in renewables.
“We have entered the decade of renewable energy action, a period in which the energy system will transform at unparalleled speed,”
-Director-General Francesco La Camera, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
With the added renewable energy capacity in 2020 beating estimates and previous records, renewables can become the primary source or power globally in the next decade. According to IRENA’s 10 Years: Progress to Action booklet. According to the report, the last decade has seen renewables become the biggest source of new power capacity. With this growth, renewables can become the world’s main power source by 2030
This progress can be attributed to the falling cost of power generation coming from renewables, making it more competitive than power generated from fossil fuel. Over the last decade, Power generated from solar Photovoltaics (PV) dropped by 82%, 47% drop from concentrating solar power (CSP), 39% drop from onshore wind and 29% drop from offshore wind.
The rise in renewable energy’s share in the global power capacity is also partly attributed to the decommissioning of fossil fuel generation in Europe, North American and other markets. The share is also expected to grow with several countries’ commitment to achieve zero emissions by 2050 (IEA: Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050)
It is important to note that for this to happen, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said “we must urgently address the need for stronger enabling policies and a significant increase in investment over the next 10 years. Renewables hold the key to sustainable development and should be central to energy and economic planning all over the world.” According to IRENA’s scenario, renewables must grow four times faster and annual investments in renewables must double by 2030 to ensure a sustainable future.
Nations are now switching to renewables to meet their commitment to achieve zero emissions by 2050 and limit the rise in average global temperature 2 degrees Celsius as per the 2015 Paris agreement. Advancements in production technology is driving the cost down and increasing demand for renewables also drives investments up. The trend for renewable energy is clear and even exceeded expectations in the past decade, making the case that renewable energies can become the world’s dominant source of power.