Share of Solar & Wind Rose Despite Depressed Global Power Demand Amid Pandemic: IEA

The global demand for renewable energy increased by about 1.5% YoY in Q1 2020


Until mid-April 2020, countries that were under complete lockdown due to coronavirus experienced a decline of 25% in energy demand per week. Whereas, in countries that were under partial lockdown, the decline was 18% on average, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest report.

The report focuses on global energy demand and the decline in the first quarter of 2020. Further, it said that only renewable energy sources showed growth in demand during the period.

The report added that in Q1 2020, the global demand for renewable energy in all sectors increased by about 1.5% relative to Q1 2019. According to the report, electricity generated from renewable sources increased by almost 3%, mainly because of new wind and solar PV projects that were completed last year. The report noted that the increase in renewable electricity generation happened after more than 100 GW of solar PV, and nearly 60 GW of wind power projects were completed in 2019.

Annual Growth for Renewable Electricity Generation by Source - 2018-2020

It also states that despite the “depressed electricity demand,” power grids have managed to increase the share of wind and solar PV. However, the demand for renewable energy in the form of biofuels declined in Q1 2020 as the consumption of fuels for road transport dropped. The IEA has estimated that the total global use of renewable energy will rise by about 1% in 2020.

The report highlighted that the share of renewables in global electricity generation increased to nearly 28% in Q1 2020 in comparison to 26% in Q1 2019. The share of wind and solar generation reached 9% in Q1 2020. It was 8% in Q1 2019.

The report also sheds light on the supply chain disruptions faced by the renewable industry in Q1 2020. Due to the lockdown, the industry also faced a slowdown in the installation activities.

China, which accounts for over 70% of global solar PV module manufacturing is ramping up production again.

Meanwhile, the wind energy supply chain is much more globally interconnected. In March 2020, some production facilities in Europe, India, and various parts of the U.S. were either closed or reduced their activities.

In April 2020, Mercom reported about the Global Wind Energy Council’s (GWEC) new report, which analyzed how COVID-19 was impacting the global wind industry, including India. India is one of the world’s largest wind gearbox manufacturing bases with nearly 10 GW of annual output.

“These disruptions, especially in February and March, have sent ripples across manufacturing hubs such as Europe, China, and the United States as wind turbines require multiple parts that are shipped from across the globe,” the report stated.

According to the IEA’s analysis, the pace of renewable power capacity additions could decline in 2020 as the supply chain disruptions and labor restrictions delay construction. However, the international agency predicts that solar PV will increase at a faster rate compared to other renewable sources in 2020. Currently, the installation of distributed solar PV has stopped or dramatically slowed in many countries as lockdown measures prevent access to the buildings, the report noted.

The report also stresses the need for the developers to commission the projects by the end of 2020. It said that in China, all wind projects need to be commissioned by the end of 2020 to qualify for feed-in tariff subsidies. In the U.S, wind developers are in a similar situation, as they are required to ensure projects are operational by the end of 2020 to receive production tax credits.

“Despite such policy deadlines, however, uncertainty remains over capacity growth this year because of possible delays,” the report added.

India generated 50.1 billion units (BU) of solar FY 2019-20. This was a growth of 28% year-over-year (YoY) compared to the FY 2018-19, where the total solar energy generated was 39.3 BUs. However, the YoY increase was the lowest in the past six years as solar installations have slowed down considerably.

In terms of installations, the share of renewable energy (including large hydro) in India’s overall installed power capacity mix increased marginally to 36.2% at the end of Q1 2020.

As of March 31, 2020, the country’s total installed power capacity stood at about 372 GW, up from 358.6 GW during the same time last year. Of this, the power generated from renewable sources (including large hydro) accounted for about 134.7 GW, up from about 125.5 GW as of Q1 2019. Solar installations accounted for about 27.2% of the overall renewable capacity.

Image credit: LONGi Solar


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