Renewables were the only category of energy that grew globally at double digits over the past decade. We went from consuming 8.2 exajoules of renewable energy throughout the globe in 2009 to 29.0 exajoules in 2019, nearly quadrupling our usage. Over the past decade, renewable energy consumption has grown at an average annual rate of 13.7%. While renewable energy is continuing to rise, other sources of energy continue to rise as well, still causing an increase in global carbon emissions from fossil energy consumption.
The renewable energy industry continued its booming growth in 2019, globally increasing by 12.2% from the previous year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry continued to grow (although not as much) in 2020. According to a May 2020 market update on renewable energy conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA), while the COVID-19 crisis certainly slowed down global renewable energy growth, the industry continues to grow (naturally, at a slower rate).
For over half a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the global economy in addition to our daily lives. However, renewable markets (particularly renewable electricity technologies) have displayed their resilience to the crisis.
Global energy demand was expected to decline by 5% in 2020. However, according to IEA experts, renewables used for generating electricity grew by 7% in 2020, unlike all other competing fuels. The renewable electricity market’s success in being resilient throughout the pandemic can be attributed to long-term contracts, priority access to the grid, and the ongoing installation of new plants.
Additionally, the renewables industry was able to swiftly adapt to the obstacles imposed by the COVID-19 crisis. The construction of plants and manufacturing activities regained momentum quickly, and logistical challenges were mostly resolved despite supply chain disruptions and construction delays hindering the progress of renewable energy projects in the first six months of the year.
Projections for the Renewables Industry in 2021 and Beyond
By 2021, IEA experts project that renewable capacity additions are well on their way to set a new record for expansion at almost 10% growth. To meet this projected growth metric, the markets where construction and supply chains were impacted must commission their delayed projects.
Additionally, cost reductions and sustained policy support are expected to continue strong growth for renewables far beyond 2022, and despite the challenges imposed by COVID-19, renewables are anticipated to account for 95% of the net increase in global electricity capacity through 2025.
Where we get our energy and how we source the electricity powering our homes and businesses continues to change. Reliance on coal is expected to decline even more in the coming years. However, natural gas is expected to grow along with consumer demand for cleaner sources and processes.
Renewable energy sources are expected to rise in the future. From wind and solar to geothermal and hydroelectric, demand for renewable energy is gaining traction. Meanwhile, processes and technologies associated with renewable energy continue to become streamlined and grow more cost-efficiently.
Powering the Future
On an individual level, supporting the generation of renewable energy is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. In certain states (including New York and Ohio), thanks to energy deregulation, you can choose a supplier who enables you to offset your energy use and help create a sustainable future through the use of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Carbon Offsets. Click here to find an innovative energy plan available near you.