Coronavirus harms but does not slow global growth in wind power capacity

The installation of new renewable energy capacity will fall 13% in 2020, to 167 GW, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It will be the first drop in 20 years in the new renewable energy capacities installed in the world.

The IEA Renewable Market Update report notes that the projected decline is due to possible delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruptions, blockade measures and patterns of social distancing, as well as emerging financial challenges. The 13% year-over-year decrease in new renewable electricity production facilities connected to the grid, in turn, represents a 20% decrease compared to what was anticipated before the effects of COVID-19 were noticed. Even so, global renewable energy capacity will grow by 6% in 2020. The IEA highlights that the expected recovery in 2021 will not allow recovering the level expected before the crisis.

The slump will be particularly pronounced in mature markets, and especially in Europe, with a one-third drop after the exceptional pull in 2019. The United States will be a notable exception in the group of advanced countries, as investors are hurrying to get their projects off the ground before the tax breaks they benefit from end.

Solar photovoltaic installations will represent slightly more than half of the renewables that will be added this year to electricity production in the world (90 gigawatts) and, if wind power is added, they will together represent 86% of the total. If compared to those of 2019, the drop will be very significant for these two technologies, 18% for photovoltaic and 12% for wind.

In 2021, the recovery of the volume of new renewable facilities should allow it to return to levels equivalent to those of 2019, which in any case will mean that in two years the global volume of renewables will be 10% lower than anticipated by the agency before the crisis.

Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, has indicated that the spectacular growth that renewables have had in the past two decades will not be enough to protect them from the uncertainties increased by COVID-19. “The resistance of renewable electricity to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis is good news, but it cannot be taken for granted,” says Birol. “Countries continue to build new wind turbines and solar plants, but at a much slower rate. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, the world needed to significantly accelerate the deployment of renewable energy to have the opportunity to meet its energy and climate goals. Amid today’s extraordinary health and economic challenges, governments must not lose sight of the essential task of accelerating clean energy transitions to enable us to emerge from the crisis on a safe and sustainable path. ”