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Renewable energy set to overtake coal as largest source of power globally

Higher fuel prices have made technologies like solar panels and wind turbines more competitive (Getty)
Higher fuel prices have made technologies like solar panels and wind turbines more competitive (Getty)

Renewable energy is set to overtake coal as the largest source of power generation globally in the next two years, according to a new report.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that a massive acceleration towards clean energy, largely driven by the global energy crisis sparked by Russia invading Ukraine, will see the world add as much renewable capacity in the next five years as it did in the last two decades.

The study noted that the global energy crisis has “sparked unprecedented momentum” for renewables that has “turbocharged” the transition towards wind, solar and hydropower.

The disruption in fossil fuel supplies have underlined the energy security benefits of electricity generated from renewable sources, while higher fuel prices have made technologies like solar panels and wind turbines more competitive.

The researchers forecasted an 85 per cent acceleration towards renewable energies over the next five years compared with the previous five years.

“Renewable capacity expansion in the next five years will be much faster than what was expected just a year ago,” the report noted.

“Their share of the power mix is forecast to increase by 10 percentage points over the forecast period, reaching 38 per cent in 2027. Renewables are the only electricity generation source whose share is expected to grow, with declining shares for coal, natural gas, nuclear and oil generation.”

The upward trend for renewables will mainly be driven by China, the European Union, India and the United States, according to the IEA, with a separate report from the US Energy Information Administration last month revealing that for the first time renewable energy sources surpassed coal in the US.

IEA executive director Faith Birol said the energy crisis could be a “historic turning point” towards a cleaner, more sustainable and more secure global energy system.

“Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to capitalise on their energy security benefits,” she said.

“Renewables’ continued acceleration is critical to help keep the door open to limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.”