For the first time, the generating capacity of renewable energy systems around the world has surpassed coal power. According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the growth was in large part due to new installations of solar power and wind projects. The IEA reports half a million solar panels were installed every day in 2015, and two new wind turbines went up every hour in countries such as China. Leave no room for doubt; this is epic news.
In the latest edition of the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Market Report, the agency focuses on gains made in 2015, which saw renewable energy projects eclipse the capacity of the world’s coal power plants for the first time. Of the newly added power projects around the globe, 153 gigawatts of renewables makes up more than half of the new capacity added in 2015 – a 15-percent increase from the previous year. Wind power accounts for 66GW of new renewable projects, with photovoltaics making up 49 GW. The remaining segment is comprised of other renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric and geothermal power.
The report also predicts that renewables will generate enough electricity for 100 percent of energy demand in the United States and Europe by 2021—just five years from now. Despite the massive increases in renewable energy capacity in 2015, more time will be needed to improve grid infrastructure and energy storage systems to handle the output. Ars Technica points out that most renewable energy projects operate at slightly more than 30 percent capacity, meaning we’re only tapping into a third of the potential energy generation. As the price of renewable energy projects continues to fall, the realized electricity output from renewables could surpass coal even earlier than anticipated.
Via Ars Technica