India may be largest contributor to renewables upswing in 2021: IEA

Solar power plant. (File Photo: IANS)
By October, shares of solar companies worldwide had more than doubled in value from December 2019. Image courtesy: IANS
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New Delhi: Renewable power is growing robustly around the world this year, contrasting with the sharp declines triggered by the Covid-19 crisis in many other parts of the energy sector such as oil, gas and coal, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.

And India is expected to be the largest contributor to the renewables upswing next year.

Driven by China and the US, new additions of renewable power capacity worldwide will increase to a record level of almost 200 gigawatts this year, the IEA's Renewables 2020 report forecasts.

This rise -- representing almost 90 per cent of the total expansion in overall power capacity globally -- is led by wind, hydropower and solar PV. Wind and solar additions are set to jump by 30 per cent in both the US and China as developers rush to take advantage of expiring incentives.

Even stronger growth is to come. India and the European Union will be the driving forces behind a record expansion of global renewable capacity additions of nearly 10 per cent next year -- the fastest growth since 2015, according to the report.

This is the result of the commissioning of delayed projects where construction and supply chains were disrupted by the pandemic, and growth in markets where the pre-Covid project pipeline was robust.

India is expected to be the largest contributor to the renewables upswing in 2021, with the country's annual additions doubling from 2020.

"Renewable power is defying the difficulties caused by the pandemic, showing robust growth while others fuels struggle," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

"The resilience and positive prospects of the sector are clearly reflected by continued strong appetite from investors -- and the future looks even brighter with new capacity additions on course to set fresh records this year and next."

Over the first 10 months of 2020, China, India and the European Union have driven auctioned renewable power capacity worldwide 15 per cent higher than in the same period last year -- a new record that shows expectations of strong demand for renewables over the medium and long term.

At the same time, shares of publicly listed renewable equipment manufacturers and project developers have been outperforming most major stock market indices and the overall energy sector.

By October, shares of solar companies worldwide had more than doubled in value from December 2019.

However, policy makers still need to take steps to support the strong momentum behind renewables. In the IEA report's main forecast, the expiry of incentives in key markets and the resulting uncertainties lead to a small decline in renewables capacity additions in 2022.

But if countries address these policy uncertainties in time, the report estimates that global solar PV and wind additions could each increase by a further 25 per cent in 2022.

Critical factors influencing the pace of deployment will be policy decisions in key markets like China, and effective support for rooftop solar PV, which has been impacted by the crisis as households and businesses reprioritised investments.

Under favourable policy conditions, solar PV annual additions could reach a record level of 150 gigawatts (GW) by 2022 -- an increase of almost 40 per cent in just three years.

The electricity generated by renewable technologies will increase by seven per cent globally in 2020, underpinned by the record new capacity additions, the report estimates. This growth comes despite a five per cent annual drop in global energy demand, the largest since the Second World War.

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