The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on October 25 that last year, thanks to cost reductions and significant policy support in key countries, renewables have surpassed coal to become the largest source of installed power in the world. This has prompted the IEA to significantly boost its five-year forecast for renewable energy growth.
The announcement challenges Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s claims that coal will remain a strong part of Australia’s energy mix for decades to come.
The latest edition of the IEA’s Medium-term Renewable Market Report predicts renewables will remain the fastest-growing source of electricity generation over the next five years, with their share growing to 28% in 2021 from 23% in 2015.
Last year marked a turning point for renewables. Led by wind and solar, renewables represented more than 60% of the new power capacity around the world, rapidly closing the gap with coal. Half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world last year and in China, which accounted for 40% of all renewable capacity increases, two wind turbines were installed every hour.
The Climate Council’s Tim Flannery said: “Australia, as one of the sunniest and windiest countries in the world, should be at the forefront of this global phenomenon. But instead, as the rest of the world surges ahead to grab the opportunities of the global transition to renewables, Australia continues to go backwards.
“The renewable energy industry in Australia has been dealt blow after blow, with the cut to the Renewable Energy Target and then the huge funding cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
“Renewable energy must expand rapidly to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Australia should be positioning itself to embrace the opportunities of the renewable energy revolution."