The International Energy Agency released their annual report on the outlook for rewewable energy today, which predicts nearly 25% of energy generated in 2018 will be from solar, wind, hydro, and other renewable sources, up from 20% just last year.
Ker Than, writing for National Geographic, says IEA believes two trends are responsible:
First, emerging markets in countries like China and India are increasingly turning to renewables to meet their fast-rising electricity demands. Growth in these markets is expected to more than compensate for slower growth in Europe and the U.S.
Second, the cost of renewable energy sources has declined considerably. For example, wind competes well with new fossil-fuel power plants in a number of countries, including Brazil, Turkey and New Zealand.
China, for example, has been investing heavily in renewable energy, despite its voracious appetite for coal. The IEA report says 40% of the growth in generation capacity will be installed in China, while other developing countries are expected to contribute 23%. Wind and solar are expected to expand the most, but growth in energy from biofuels is predicted to slow.
That may not be enough, though. To prevent CO2 levels from exceeding 450 parts per million—a threshold most climate scientists say we shouldn’t cross—we’ll have to cut emissions by 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. That’s more ambitious than President Obama’s initiatives, which aim to trim emissions 17% below 2005 levels (a higher baseline) by 2020.