Dave Elliott: he Renewable Energy for the 21st Century group (REN21) produce invaluable annual overviews. Their annual renewables review for 2021 reports that renewables generating capacity is still growing globally, with hydro still leading at 1,170GW, PV solar coming next at 760GW, while wind is at 743GW. In terms of output, renewables now supply around 27% of global electricity and about 11.2% of total global energy. Renewable capacity is likely to continue to expand, given that costs are still falling. IRENA has noted that costs for electricity from utility-scale solar PV fell 85% in 2010-20 and, on the basis of its learning curve projections, it looks to continuing price falls for solar and to a lesser extent wind. It is true that there are scenarios which avoid carbon capture and carbon removal and also do without nuclear, both of which are seen by some as detracting from the rapid expansion of renewables. But even with a massive commitment to energy saving and reductions in energy demand, it seems unlikely that we could do without a massive expansion of renewables. LUT University in Finland has a zero carbon non-nuclear scenario with huge 63TW of PV solar installed globally by 2050, supplying 76% of total primary electricity supply by then across the power, heat, and transport sectors- wind supplies most of the rest. That may be wildly over ambitious, but, as renewable costs continue to fall and energy use systems are revamped, expansion on that scale might be viable. Certainly, in addition to the LUT and other global scenarios, as my last few post have indicated, there are new zero carbon scenarios emerging for the UK, with, along with significant energy efficiency improvements, massive reliance on renewables, although in that case with wind usual dominating over PV solar.
Renew Extra 28th Aug 2021 read more »