IEA (2019), World Energy Outlook 2019, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-outlook-2019, License: CC BY 4.0
The past decade has seen strong growth in the deployment of renewable energy technologies, with the power sector leading the way thanks to sharp cost reductions for solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power. However the uptake of renewables has been slower in end-use sectors such as industry and buildings.
Electricity generation from renewables continued to grow in 2018 with output up by 450 terawatt-hours (TWh) (or 7%) compared to the previous year, accounting for more than a quarter of total power generation. Growth in output from solar PV, wind and hydro accounted for 90% of the increase. Around 180 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable power capacity was added in 2018, which is the same level as the previous year, although the IEA’s estimate for 2019 suggests a resumption of robust growth in annual renewable additions.
Cost reductions in renewables and advances in digital technologies are opening huge opportunities for energy transitions. Wind and solar PV provide more than half of the additional electricity generation to 2040 in the Stated Policies Scenario and almost all the growth in the Sustainable Development Scenario.
In the Stated Policies Scenario, the amount of renewables (excluding traditional use of biomass) in final energy consumption increases from more than 990 Mtoe today to almost 2 260 Mtoe in 2040. The share of renewables in global heat increases by 60% and reaches nearly 940 Mtoe in 2040, thanks to substantial growth in the modern use of bioenergy (pellets in boilers and stoves, biogas and biomethane, biofuels), renewable electricity and also of solar thermal. Meanwhile the contribution of renewables to the transport sector triples to around 300 Mtoe, three-quarters of which comes from biofuels.
In the Sustainable Development Scenario, additional measures to incentivise investment in renewables-based electricity, bioenergy, solar heat, geothermal heat and electrification push the share of renewables to two-thirds of electricity generation output and 37% of final energy consumption. By 2040, expected output from wind (8 300 TWh) and solar PV (7 200 TWh) are expected to exceed hydropower (6 950 TWh), while the share of heat coming from renewables in 2040 increases to 30% of the total or to 1 200 Mtoe. In the transport sector, consumption of energy from renewable sources is projected to increase to 600 Mtoe, with biofuels accounting for around 60% and electricity from renewable sources consumed by electric vehicles and rail accounting for the remainder.
In the Sustainable Development Scenario, renewables account for around 80% of capacity additions in all regions, complemented mainly by nuclear power and carbon capture technologies.
In the Stated Policies Scenario, investment in renewables reaches a cumulative total between now and 2040 of around $10 trillion. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, investment grows at a much faster rate, reflecting stronger policy support and the central role that these clean energy technologies play in reaching sustainable energy goals.
|Stated Policies||Sustainable Development||
Change 2018 vs
|Renewables-based power generation||304||329||378||528||636||24%||109%|
|Cumulative||5 477||5 166||7 829||7 802|
There are further innovations on the horizon, including floating turbines that can open up new resources and markets.
Increasingly cost-competitive offshore wind projects are on course to attract a trillion dollars of investment to 2040. Europe’s success with the technology has sparked interest in China, the United States and elsewhere. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, offshore wind rivals its onshore counterpart as the leading source of electricity generation in the European Union, paving the way to full decarbonisation of Europe’s power sector. Even higher deployment is possible if offshore wind becomes the foundation for the production of low-carbon hydrogen.
The benefits of using biogas are many and the economic case improves considerably if these non-economic benefits are fully taken into account. In the Stated Policies Scenario, close to 150 Mtoe of biogas is produced globally by 2040, over 40% of which is in China and India. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, there is a more pronounced increase in biogas production: it reaches around 330 Mtoe in 2040, utilising around 40% of the total sustainable technical potential.