From Texas to China, governments around the world have taken steps to dramatically increase renewable energy development in the coming years as they seek to reduce emissions and protect against the spikes in energy prices that have rocked economies around the world this year.
The International Energy Agency, which advises the world’s governments on energy supply, raised its forecast for renewable energy installations by 30 percent earlier this month. He predicts the world will produce as much renewable energy in the next five years as it did in the previous two decades.
“Renewables were already expanding rapidly, but the global energy crisis has ushered them into an extraordinary new phase,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said earlier this month.
The surge in projects is expected to dramatically transform the world’s electricity grids, with renewables including hydroelectric dams expected to overtake coal plants as the world’s largest source of energy by 2025.
In an October report, consulting firm McKinksey predicted that “renewable energy driven by wind and solar is poised to become the backbone of the world’s energy supply.”
That further diminishes the role of the world’s fossil fuel industry, including Texas’ oil and gas industry, which has invested tens of billions of dollars in LNG terminals to ship American gas to power plants and industrial facilities around the world.
Still, the boom in renewables will hurt coal the most, said Michael Webber, an energy professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
“It will take some time for new energy technologies to capture market share. “Coal’s market share is down. Maybe someday when the last coal plant closes, renewables will take market share from gas, but that’s probably at least a decade away.”
According to the IEA, the leader in the development of renewable energy sources is China, followed by the European Union, the United States and then India.
In the US, tax credits for renewable energy included in the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law in August are expected to boost investment. Not just in Texas and California, long leaders in wind and solar development, but also in places like Georgia and Louisiana, which are looking to renewable sources to generate their own power while reducing emissions, said President Jeff Clark. of the Austin-based Advanced Power Alliance.
“I met with a bunch of chemical companies, and they’re all desperate for clean energy,” he said. “They say gas is too expensive and they have to decarbonize their products.”
The question now is whether countries can upgrade their power grids fast enough to meet the surge in electricity from new wind and solar farms, often far from urban centers where electricity is most needed.
In Europe, for example, timelines for building new infrastructure are long, and according to a report earlier this month by research firm Rystad Energy, Germany is already having to cut back on wind farms due to a lack of transmission lines.
But these barriers do little to limit expectations for renewable energy.
In a report earlier this year, consultants McKinsey predicted that renewables would account for 60 percent of electricity generated worldwide by 2035, warning that this could be “very low.”
“Three years ago, we looked at the progress made by renewable energy and asked how fast can they go?” “The answer is: faster than you think.”