Half a million solar panels installed every day in 2015: IEA

An average of half a million solar panels a day were installed globally in 2015 and more than four wind turbines every hour, as renewables overtook coal for the first time and became the largest single source of installed capacity in the world.

The International Energy Agency – in its medium-term outlook report for renewables – expects the share of renewable energy in the world’s electricity system to jump to 28 per cent by 2021, from 23 per cent now.

The data suggests that figure could be more than 30 per cent if its “accelerated scenario” comes to pass, and given the IEA’s history of grossly underestimating the uptake of wind and solar in particular, this could well turn out to be the case.

In its last World Energy Outlook, it said that wind and solar would overtake coal and gas as the single biggest source of electricity by generation by 2040. That prediction will likely be reinforced when that document is updated in November.

The IEA says that wind and solar will account for more than two-thirds of the growth in renewables, but says there should be no issues about integration, as long as governments and regulatory bodies have the right policies and investments.

IEA energy analyst Paulo Frankl said renewables had played a key role in achieving the ambitious Paris climate agreement, which had been ratified in less than a year, compared with more than seven years for the Kyoto Protocol. “Renewables are now considered an affordable solution,” he told journalists in a briefing.

Frankl said the share of wind and solar – dubbed “variable” renewables – would reach “astonishing” levels in some countries over the next five years.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson