The world is set to build less renewable energy projects this year because of the Covid-19 crisis, but the impact of the pandemic on offshore wind deployment in 2020 and 2021 remains limited
“Most projects for 2020 and 2021 are either partially commissioned or at an advanced stage of development, particularly in Europe, which is the largest offshore market,” said the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its Renewable Market Update report, published on 20 May 2020.
“China is a growing market with many projects in the pipeline, but the IEA forecast expects Chinese developers will make up for any delays. The Covid-19 crisis may impact offshore wind deployment beyond 2021, as some pre-development work such as permitting and environmental approval is being delayed.”
The IEA said renewable power sources have so far showed impressive resilience despite the disruptions and changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with their share of the electricity mix increasing in many markets.
But the world is set to add 167 GW of renewable power capacity this year, 13% less than in 2019, according to the report.
The decline reflects possible delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruptions, lockdown measures and social distancing guidelines, as well as emerging financing challenges.
But despite the slowdown in new additions, overall global renewable power capacity still grows by 6% in 2020, surpassing the total power capacity of North America and Europe combined.
Next year, renewable power additions are forecast to rebound to the level reached in 2019. But despite the rebound, growth for 2020 and 2021 combined is expected to be 10% lower than the IEA had previously forecast before the coronavirus outbreak.
“The resilience of renewable electricity to the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis is good news but cannot be taken for granted,” said IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol.
“Countries are continuing to build new wind turbines and solar plants, but at a slower pace. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the world needed to significantly accelerate the deployment of renewables to have a chance of meeting its energy and climate goals.
“Amid today’s extraordinary health and economic challenges, governments must not lose sight of the essential task of stepping up clean energy transitions to enable us to emerge from the crisis on a secure and sustainable path.
“The spectacular growth and cost reductions of renewables over the past two decades have been a big success story for global energy markets, driven by innovation in both technology and policies. But continuing cost declines will not be enough to protect renewables from a range of uncertainties that are being exacerbated by Covid-19,” said Dr Birol.
“This underlines the critical importance of getting stimulus packages and policy strategies right to ensure investor confidence in the months and years ahead.”
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