The construction of solar parks, wind turbines, and other renewable energy sources will increase over the next five years as nations set stricter climate policies and more ambitious emissions targets.
According to a new report by the International Energy Agency, the new renewable power capacity will set another record this year at 290 gigawatts. That’s roughly the equivalent of building nearly 300 nuclear reactors or nearly 150 Hoover dams, despite global supply chain problems, rising material costs and Covid restrictions.
The intergovernmental research organization now predicts that global capacity from these carbon-free sources will increase by more than 60% year-on-year by 2026. That is around 4,800 gigawatts, comparable to all fossil and nuclear power plants in the world.
In addition, renewables will account for 95% of total capacity growth in the electricity sector during this period.
The construction of new wind and solar plants does not necessarily mean that renewable energies displace fossil fuels – because the demand for energy is also increasing. And it remains to be seen how quickly carbon-free sources will become the dominant power source around the world and quickly displace coal, natural gas, and other polluting sources.
While renewable energies now make up the majority of newly built capacity, the level of power generation by source can vary greatly from year to year, depending on cost shifts, weather conditions and more. But in recent years, coal generation has declined and solar, water and wind have all increased, according to BloombergNEF. Indeed, these are three sources responsible for all growth in electricity generation last year as electricity production from coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants declined.
The IEA’s 2026 renewable energy estimates are a significant upward revision, more than 40% higher than their forecasts last year. Among other things, the agency cited the improving economic situation, the increased national obligations to reduce emissions in the run-up to the most recent UN climate conference, as well as national developments and guidelines.