Renewable energies, record growth for 2021. But the cost of raw materials may hold back the future

I’International Energy Agency published the new market report of renewable energies from which emerges a positive trend in 2021 with the possibility of marking a record year for global growth of this type of energy. A situation that continues despite the soaring prices of raw materials, a factor that could constitute a brake on the transition to clean energy in the future.

The report it expects an additional 290 GW to be injected by the end of the year, making 2021 a record year for renewable energy growth, surpassing last year’s results. What has happened in the current year exceeds the predictions that the Agency made last spring.

Solar continued to be the fastest growing energy source in 2021, increasing by nearly 160 GW. Overall, this represents more than half of the renewable energy capacity added this year, and the trend will continue over the next five years, according to the agency. The new report claims that renewables will account for 95% of new global energy capacity by 2026. The agency also predicts robust growth for offshore wind, which could more than triple in the same time frame.

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According to the IEA by 2026, the amount of renewable electricity capacity in the world will equal the current capacity drawn from fossil fuels and nuclear. By comparison, renewables accounted for 29% of global electricity production last year.

However, forecasts for the next few years could be marred by rising commodity prices. For example, the cost of polysilicon used to build solar panels has more than quadrupled since the start of 2020, and capital costs for large-scale onshore wind and solar farms have increased by 25% since 2019. These are factors that could contribute to delaying completion. new renewable energy projects already contracted. Even the delay in the delivery of materials is a variable that could have an impact on the completion of projects, leading to delays or, in the worst case, cancellations.

After all, it is precisely the drastic drop in photovoltaic module prices that has driven and sustained the success of solar: costs have fallen from $30 per watt in 1980 to $0.2 per watt in 2020. Last year, solar was already the cheapest source of energy in most parts of the world.

Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, nevertheless noted: “The high prices of raw materials and energy that we are experiencing today pose new challenges for the renewable energy sector, but also the high prices of fossil fuels make renewable energies even more competitive”.

However, the Agency emphasizes that the transition to renewable energies should be greatly accelerated in order to respond adequately to the climate crisis. If the goal is to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels by mid-century, then New renewable energy capacity must grow twice as fast than planned for the next five years.