Renewables To Eclipse Gas Powered Electricity Generation By 2016

Electricity generation from renewable sources worldwide will exceed that from gas and be twice that from nuclear power by 2016 says the International Energy Agency.

The prediction is in the IEA’s second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR); the Executive Summary of which can be viewed here (PDF).

The IEA says renewable power is expected to jump by 40% in the next five years and will make up almost a quarter of the global power mix by 2018.

In terms of non-hydro sources such as wind, solar power systems, bioenergy and geothermal; their share in the energy mix will double, reaching 8% by 2018.

Total renewable electricity generation grew strongly in 2012, increasing by 8.2% from 2011.

Rapid deployment of renewable energy capacity in emerging economies is expected to more than make up for slower growth and volatility in other areas, notably Europe and the US.

The IEA says wind is competing with new fossil-fuel power plants in several markets, including Brazil, Turkey and New Zealand. The cost of decentralised solar photovoltaic electricity generation is also now lower than retail electricity prices in a number of countries.

While it’s good news; the agency warns against complacency; especially among OECD countries.

The issue of gas has become a hot-button topic in Australia in recent years; particularly coal seam gas (CSG). In addition to the many environmental issues; the topic of safety has now also been brought into play. Australia’s Zero Emissions has gone as far as to call for a ban on gas connections in new homes and a 10 year phase-out in existing homes.

“Gas fired appliances are out-dated, dangerous and should be banned,” says Matthew Wright, Executive Director of Zero Emissions.

Mr Wright says common major gas appliances have an electric competitor that beats them on price and performance; including induction cooktops, heat pump hot water units and reverse cycle heat pump air-conditioners.

Such a shift to electricity-only would increase power demand considerably, but Mr. Wright believes expensive grid upgrades would be unnecessary if the Australian government supports battery storage systems for home solar power.

The home energy storage sector is rapidly evolving – yesterday we reported on the SMA Sunny Boy Smart Energy; the first wall mounted solar inverter with an integrated battery to be mass produced.