Renewables trajectory

Renewables trajectory

December 08, 2020 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

Renewable energy companies have managed to grow in recent years in a market with static demand for electricity by replacing aging coal and nuclear power plants.

The opportunities for such growth are expected to remain strong over the next decade.

S&P Global Platts Analytics calculated that 41,500 megawatts of coal-fired power plants were retired during the four years of the Trump administration, and close to 46,000 megawatts of new wind and solar projects came on line during the same period.

Coal accounts currently for about 21% of US electricity production. Platts Analytics expects that number to fall to 5% by 2030, assuming the US places a price on carbon starting in 2026. It expects wind and solar to grow to 30% of US electricity output by 2030 compared to 11% currently.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook 2020 report in mid-October that it expects renewable energy to supply 80% of growth in global electricity demand over the next decade. Solar is expected to account for an outsized share.

The International Energy Agency expects demand for all types of energy to take until 2023 to recover, after dropping 5% in 2020 as economies contracted in the face of COVID-19. The forecast assumes no change in current government policies.

The US President-elect, Joe Biden, called during the campaign for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The IEA said that to reach that goal globally would require using low-emissions energy sources to supply about 75% of global electricity by 2030, up from less than 40% last year.