IEA: Renewables to overtake coal by 2030

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if climate pledges kept, most electricity to be generated by renewable energy within 15 years

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Renewable energy will become the leading source of electricity generation by 2030, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its Energy and Climate Change Report published on Monday.

"Renewables will become the leading source of electricity by 2030, as average annual investment in non-hydro renewables is 80 percent higher than levels seen since 2000," the report said.

The IEA stated that use of renewables and low-carbon energy sources is expanding rapidly, adding that "there are signs that growth in the global economy and energy-related emissions may be starting to decouple."

"The link between global economic output and energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions weakens significantly," the IEA said.

The global economy grew around 3 percent in 2014, but energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions stayed flat, the agency emphasised, adding that this is the first time in the last 40 years that such an outcome has occurred outside an economic crisis.

The agency said renewable energy accounted for almost half of all new power generation capacity in 2014, which was led by China, the US, Japan and Germany.

Investments in renewable energy were around $270 billion, while costs of renewables continue to decline.

"The energy intensity of the global economy dropped by 2.3 percent in 2014, more than double the average rate of fall over the last decade, a result stemming from improved energy efficiency and structural changes in some economies, such as China," EIA's report showed.

In addition, the agency estimates that the global economy will grow by 88 percent from 2013 to 2030, while energy-related CO2 emissions are expected to rise only by 8 percent.

The agency stressed that the agreement to be reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), also known as 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, in Paris in December must be comprehensive, equitable and should reflect national responsibilities.

The UN's international climate change conference to be held in Paris in late November aims to achieve a legally binding international agreement, although the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which tried to reduce greenhouse emissions, was not ratified by all countries throughout the world.

"From COP21, the energy sector needs to see a projection from political leaders at the highest level of clarity of purpose and certainty of action, creating a clear expectation of global and national low-carbon development," the IEA said in the report.

The IEA argues that governments worldwide are determined to keep the rise in global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius (2°C).

According to the report, the US plans to reduce its net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26 percent compared to 2005 levels, to reach 28 percent by 2025.

The European Union aims to trim its GHG emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, in comparison to the levels they were at in 1990. This would allow the EU to have its energy-related CO2 emissions decrease at twice the rate achieved since 2000. Additionally, it would make Europe one of the world’s least carbon-intensive energy economies.

"If stronger action is not forthcoming after 2030, an average temperature increase of around 2.6°C by 2100 and 3.5°C after 2200 is expected," the IEA warned.