Global capacity set to surpass 2 terrawatts by 2020, with power shifting to emerging markets

21 August 2013

LONDON: A surge in renewable energy policies has helped set global installed capacity on track to surpass 2 terrawatts (TW) by 2020, according to estimates in new Frost & Sullivan research, which also suggests market influence will eventually shift to emerging economies.

Worldwide policies

A decade ago, less than 50 countries across the world had policies in support of renewable energy, but now there are more than 120 countries with strong policies in place. According to Frost & Sullivan’s Annual Renewable Outlook 2013, this surge of government support has led to forecasts for renewables growth reaching 2TW by 2020.

Commenting on the importance of bold policy targets to boost renewables uptake, Harald Thaler, Energy and Environmental Industry Director, Frost & Sullivann, said in a statement: "The EU has set binding targets to source 20% of the bloc's total energy consumption from renewable energy sources in 2020, and targets for individual member states range from 10% for Malta to 49% for Sweden. Climate and energy policies as well as long-term price-based incentives, such as subsidies and tax benefits, can substantially boost renewable energy penetration and innovation."

Emerging markets

Highest renewables growth rates are expected in emerging regions, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, due to urbanization, population growth and energy concerns driving faster adoption, the report says.

Harald Thaler explained the global power shift: "Concerted renewable energy strategies have been in place in countries such as China, India and Brazil for some time, and other emerging markets are now promoting renewables in a more systematic fashion. Among developed nations, Japan in particular is undergoing a seismic shift away from nuclear power towards a much greater focus on renewables." 

Countless research and market data continues to support the report's forecasts of renewables growth in emerging markets. Last year for example, South Africa was the fastest growing clean energy market, climbing exponentially from US$30 million to US$5.5 billion in 2012, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Global renewables race

2012 also saw China take the crown for the world's largest wind market. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China installed 15.9 gigawatts of wind power in 2012 - representing 35% of the world's new onshore capacity. The new builds made China the world's largest wind market in terms of annual installed capacity for the fourth consecutive year.

However, a recent survey by EPIA finds Europe still accounts for the predominant part of global solar PV capacity, with 55% of all PV new capacities installed in 2012. In the last year Germany was the biggest market, with 7.6 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity installed, followed by China (5 GW), Italy (3.4 GW), the USA (3.3 GW) and Japan (2 GW). Germany also made headlines this week for breaking the world's monthly solar generation record at 5.1 tWh.

Related news:

Global clean-energy investment accelerates by 22% in second quarter of 2013

Record wind capacity added worldwide in 2012, led by Asia

Global renewables growth forges on: $1.3 trillion invested since 2006, 5.7 million people employed last year

By Clare Saxon and Maria Mateeva

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