IEA: Renewable Energy Sources to Top Natural Gas by 2016

Energy produced from renewable sources such as hydro, wind, and solar will exceed that from natural gas and more than double the outupt from nuclear by 2016, according to a recent International Energy Agency report, making it the second most important global electricity source, after coal.

According to projections, renewable power will increase by a whopping 40% over the next five years, despite what the report calls a "difficult economic context." Renewables are currently the fastest-growing electricity source, and will make up almost a quarter of the global power mix by 2018, according to the IEA, up from an estimated 20% in 2011. Non-hydro sources (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) are expected to double by 2018, reaching 8%, according to the Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (link opens in PDF).

"As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation," said Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven during a presentation. "This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an excuse for government complacency, especially among OECD countries."

In 2012, global renewable energy generation exceeded China's overall electricity consumption. Van der Hoeven pointed to increased investment in emerging markets and cost-competitiveness as the two main drivers behind renewables' ramp up.

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  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2013, at 5:18 PM, oybama wrote:

    The article throws around a lot of percents that are not really percents (40% of what? 8% of what?). The bottom line is that if you consider hydroelectric power as renewable then renewable looks good, if not (which most environmentalists do not since they want to destroy dams) then renewables look pathetic.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2013, at 5:51 PM, sandyssanders wrote:

    @oybama... Can't you read simple English?

    40% increase over last years production;

    8% of all energy sources.

    Please, if you are going to comment, read it. Or maybe your just one of those paid Koch Bros. troll spewing confusion over renewable energy. The kochs are big oil and gas boys and stand to loose a lot.

    Solar and wind will most likely be 90% of all energy sources by 2075. The sooner we go there the sooner we get free, clean, perpetual energy.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2013, at 6:46 PM, fpl1954 wrote:

    Duh, no kidding, every solar panel installed since 1975, except the ones Reagan tore off the White House roof, is still working at over 90% capacity, at zero fuel and maintenance costs after 40-50 years. Wind generators have a 60-80 year life, though they do require 1% of the power sales go back into maintenance. Hydro systems last centuries, again sucking up a percent or two to replace worn parts, but zero fuel costs and output goes up every year. Wave and tidal systems last decades, albeit they require a LOT of local jobs, but output also goes up annually and fuel is free. All of these systems will be putting out power more or less forever at high construction (one time) costs but low maintenance and zero fuel costs. Compare that to coal, which has construction costs competitive with solar but fuel costs that are fairly high, and increasing annually. Compare that to nuclear, which is so expensive no nuclear plant has ever been built without 99% government subsidies. No kidding the world is going to alternative energy, it's economic suicide for any country that doesn't. Then you consider the environment, at some point people might force power generators to pay the full cost of power generation. Only a fool bets against solar and wind.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2013, at 7:11 PM, tigerade wrote:

    There are people right now, as we speak, who get 100% of the power they need by solar panels on the roof, with a backup battery for nighttime. This can be done and actually saves the household money vs the electric bill. Look at companies like Solar City. That company will also do an energy audit for you and also help improve efficiency in your home. If you are a homeowner it's definition something you should consider.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2013, at 8:37 PM, oybama wrote:

    I read the referenced pdf and 40% is really 1.38 which is the ratio of estimated energy from renewables (including hydro) for 2018 divided by the estimated energy from renewables for 2013. The 2011 to 2006 (the last 5 years of actual data) ratio was 1.27. Technically these are not percentages since the numerator is not contained in the denominator - the most common error people (including many PhD.s) make in reporting percentages. The 8% however is a statistic and represents the energy estimated to be produced by non-hydro renewable sources in 2018 divided by the total energy to be produced in 2018. That seems a bit high to me so I looked at their numbers and I see a pretty much constant increase of 40-50TWHr year to year to 2018 from PV and a tenfold increase in CSP (but still insignificant). The biggest gains are in hydro power and wind power.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2013, at 8:43 PM, oybama wrote:

    @tigerade Today nobody gets 100% of their power from solar. Most electrical power is consumed by commercial customers (74%) not residential (26%) and we all rely on those commercial customers for our stuff.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2013, at 11:32 PM, deekaman wrote:

    People who buy the solar and wind propaganda are fools. The claim that solar panels installed since 1975 are still working at 90% capacity doesn't pass the smell test. The payback on PV panels far exceeds the design life (20 years). The claim that windmills have a 60-80 year life is not only unproven, but flies in the face of current technological experience. Any engineer will tell you that a piece of rotating equipment that size with those forces is unlikely to make it past 20-30 years without extensive maintenance. Wave and tidal systems? They are fraught problems from salt water corrosion to the killing of sea life.

    If you want unreliable electricity, cold in the winter and hot in the summer, if you want to live lives of poverty and discomfort, bank on solar and wind. The math will never add up. The cleanest cheap and abundant power you will find will come from natural gas via "fracking" and from nuclear. Failure to exploit those resources will return us to live that are mean, nasty, brutish and short.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 12:05 AM, MotleyFoolStinks wrote:

    To fpl1954: Your 90% since 1975 is a number you make up. I've worked with solar panels, and that performance over that long of a period with that technology is impossible.

    To oybama: I"m not clear what mistake you saying PHD's make. If you divide energy from a recent year, use 140 as an example, by energy from some previous year, use 100 as an example, you get a ratio. In this example it's 140/100 = 1.4. By simply looking at that number you can see that's 40%. You can also get the answer from (140-100)/100 = 0.4 = 40%.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 2:24 AM, oybama wrote:

    To be a proper percentage the numerator must be contained in the denominator, so the maximum percentage is 100%. You can always represent a number as a percent by multiplying by 100, but a proper percentage is a ratio of <some things>/<total things>. Some must always be less than total or you have the wrong total.

  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2013, at 8:33 AM, mwflinn55 wrote:

    Gentlemen,

    Bottom line is that energy sources like solar power are way beyond the U.S.'s scope - the association between lobbyists and their ability to control the puppet in the white house will only amount to more failed gov't backed solar start-ups in the immediate future. Unfortunately for the U.S. - China is going to be the lead in this for many years to come.

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