These 4 charts show the state of renewable energy in 2022

The International Energy Agency reports that renewable energy installations set new records in 2021.

These charts show the expected state of renewable energy in 2022

  • The International Energy Agency reports that renewable energy installations set new records in 2021.
  • Even though the cost of raw materials is rising, the installation of solar panels is expected to grow by 8% in 2022.
  • Solar energy is expected to account for 60% of the increase in global renewable energy capacity this year.

Renewable energy is becoming more and more popular. A record amount of renewable capacity was installed in 2021, even though there were some delays because of the pandemic and rising raw material costs. Now the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects that record to be beaten again in 2022, at least in part because of new renewable capacity being built in response to the war in Ukraine.

According to the IEA, the world now has 295 gigawatts of renewable energy. This demonstrates the "unprecedented acceleration" of renewable energy in recent years, as described by the World Economic Forum's Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021 report. As the transition to clean energy gathers pace, it can be difficult to see the full picture. These four charts reveal the state of renewable energy around the world today.

The IEA predicts that in 2021, renewable energy will grow by 6%. Solar power will be the main driver of this growth. However, this growth is not uniform. For example, there was a decline of 17% in new wind installations in 2021. On the other hand, India's renewable energy sector grew by double digits in 2021 after experiencing a slowdown in 2020. Brazil also saw a growth in rooftop solar and onshore wind installations due to its incentives.

There have been different outcomes in different countries when it comes to government initiatives to help or harm renewable roll-outs. In Viet Nam, the ending of a feed-in tariff for rooftop solar saw a dramatic slowdown. However, in South Africa, the completion of pre-approved wind and solar led to resumed growth.

Solar’s price advantage

The International Energy Agency says that even if energy prices stay high, solar will remain a cost-effective option for renewable energy over the next two years. This is due to the increasing price of raw materials used to make renewable energy installations. In the past twelve months, the price of polysilicon has increased by more than four times, while steel prices have risen by 50% and copper prices by 70%. Overall, raw material costs for all types of renewable energy are 15% to 25% higher than they were before.

China still the leader

China accounted for 46% of the new generating capacity added in 2021. This was largely due to subsidies that encouraged a lot of growth in offshore wind power. In Europe, solar power was the biggest source of growth, with projects in Spain, France, Poland and Germany. The IEA expects Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to lead to an increase in renewable energy capacity in Europe, especially solar power. Russia supplies around 45% of the European Union’s gas, so when it cut supplies to Bulgaria, Finland and Poland, other countries had to find new sources of energy.

According to the IEA, if renewable energy capacity continues to grow at the current rate, it could completely replace traditional electricity generation by 2023. Furthermore, even if current trends continue, renewables could significantly reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas.

Solar's ahead of the pack

According to the IEA, solar energy will account for 60% of all renewable energy by 2022. This is a large increase and it will bring the global total for renewable energy up to 300 gigawatts. Most of this increase will be due to large-scale solar projects in China and the European Union, which are being encouraged by government policies. However, new wind power installations are expected to decline slightly in 2021 before picking back up again. This is due in part to the end of subsidies for new offshore wind installations in China, which caused a surge in new installations in 2021.

China is the largest player in renewables and its decisions have an effect on the totals around the world. The IEA says that new additions to the world's hydropower capacity will be 40% lower in 2022 because of projects that are being built in China.

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