Wind and solar capacity will overtake both gas and coal by 2024

Wind and solar capacity will exceed coal and gas in less than five years, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency.

The increase will mean wind and solar will overtake gas capacity in 2023 and coal in 2024.

The IEA’s Renewables 2020 report concludes that while other fuels have struggled due to Covid-19 this year, the market for renewables has proved “more resilient than previously thought”.

The continued growth of wind and solar means renewables, including hydro and bioenergy, would displace coal as the largest source of the world’s power by 2025, says the IEA’s report.

Last year, Carbon Brief analysis of the IEA’s data found that it only expected renewables to overtake coal output over the next five years under its more optimistic “accelerated case” scenario.

However, this year – even in its less ambitious “main case” scenario – wind, solar, hydro and biomass are projected to take the lead within the next five years.

Capacity milestones

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Renewables are set to dominate the construction of new power infrastructure in the coming years as costs continue to fall.

In its main case, the IEA has wind, solar, hydro and other renewable sources accounting for 95% of the increase in the world’s electricity generating capacity over the next five years.

Solar capacity, which the IEA recently described as offering – in the best cases – the “cheapest…electricity in history”, is set to be the key driver of this trend.

In the new report’s main scenario, 130GW of solar will be added each year between 2023-2025 and this rises to 165GW in the accelerated scenario, which would account for nearly 60% of the total renewable expansion across this period.

Wind is also expected to expand considerably, but its contribution will be smaller than solar.

Photo: Anike Meyer

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