Renewable energy grows faster than coal for first time
Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 8:01 PM - In the days when coal was the catalyst of the Industrial Revolution, few of those who dug it from the ground would have imagined it would one day be dwarfed by the wind and sun.
It was a long time in coming, but a new report suggests 2015 was the first time growth in renewable sources of energy finally eclipsed new coal power capacity.
The International Energy Agency's (IEA) report, released Tuesday, says renewable capacity reached a record 153 gigawatts (GW) in 2015, more than half of new world power capacity worldwide, and 15 per cent more than the previous year. Of that, wind accounted for 66 GW, and 49 GW. was due to solar.
"We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables and, as is the case with other fields, the center of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets," IEA executive director Dr. Fatih Birol said in a release.
The IEA says some 500,000 solar panels -- that's half a million -- were installed every day in 2015. In China, an average two wind turbines were installed every hour.
And the IEA says renewables growth will keep on accelerating over the coming five years, reaching more than 60 per cent of new capacity.
Over that time, China will account for 37 per cent, almost triple the U.S. at 13 per cent. The European Union is not far being the U.S. with 12 per cent, with India in fourth place with nine per cent.
Though the agency is bullish on future growth, it does throw up some flags to watch: Among IEA's concerns is "policy uncertainty" in some countries limiting growth, high financial costs serving as barriers in developing countries, and the rapid growth in renewables making system integration problems worse in some markets.
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), Hydroelectricity makes up 59.3 per cent of Canada's power generation. Wind power makes up 3.5 per cent, and NRCAN says wind and solar are Canada's fastest-growing power sources.