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The world needs to double renewable energy generation

Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Unless the world doubles the global rate of renewable energy generation, it will never ever net zero, says a new report.

Governments need to help stimulate the development of new renewable power plants. But progress in lockdowns shows what can be done to grow renewables’ share.

The world must double the rate of transition to renewable energy to have any chance of achieving net zero carbon by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned in a report.

Renewable power generation is still well below growth rates required for net zero.

There is no single solution. New Zealand needs to use electricity more efficiently, produce more of it from all sources, reform grid access and strengthen the distribution network, grid and local lines.

Aotearoa must stop the belief it has an abundance of renewables and treat Manapouri power as a strategic asset; and stop letting Rio Tinto destabilise the energy market by threatening to stay or go.

The IEA says global renewable electricity generation increased by seven percent in 2020 with wind and solar, together accounting for almost two-thirds of the growth. Last year, renewables accounted for 29 percent of total global electricity generation – a new record.

But, much of the growth was due to reduced power-demand during lockdowns. Because renewables like wind and solar tend to be always on, their share of generation rises when controllable sources such as coal and gas switch off as demand falls.

Installation of all forms of renewable energy must be accelerated, and existing government policies are lagging what is needed to stimulate the development of new renewable power plants, says the IEA.

The growth of geothermal generation stalled in 2020, dropping behind progress in previous years. Only China added new concentrated solar power capacity in 2020.

However, the pandemic has proved an opportunity for some nations to increase their total renewable generation, with global renewable capacity growing by 46 percent from 2019 to 2020, setting a record for the rate of expansion.

The IEA says there was a 192 percent increase in wind-generating capacity last year and solar energy installations grew by a quarter over the year. Government deadlines for new capacity in China, the US and Vietnam helped accelerate the roll-out in those countries.

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