You Can't Beat The Global Trends

Renewable power generation is steadily replacing coal. The International Energy Agency (IEA) presented its regular forecast of global energy production: the World Energy Outlook-2017 (WEO). Experts barely keep pace with the rapidly changing development trends.


It is hard to find analysts more conservative than IEA regarding the forecasts on renewable energy sources (RESs) development. In its reports published since 1977, the International Energy Agency had never been too accurate in its forecasts of the renewable energy future or in sympathy with those, prioritizing traditional power sources.  

In the 2017 document, the experts consider three scenarios for the global energy production: the Current Policies Scenario assuming no changes in policies with no consideration of the countries’ intentions within the frame of the Paris Agreement; the most predictable New Policies Scenario taking into account climatic goals of the states (on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions); and the progressive 450 Scenario, which sets out a pathway of global energy development consistent with the goal of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2°C. 

The major New Policies Scenario differs from the previous one by the radical reduction of the coal consumption forecast and improved forecast for the progress in solar and wind energy production.  As per IEA experts’ estimates, the global energy needs rise more slowly than in the past but presumably it still will expand by 30% between today and 2040.

However, IEA mentioned the last-year record-breaking decrease in coal consumption and made an assumption that the peak of its consumption in China (the major consumer of this fossil fuel) was passed in 2013 and no return to be expected. By experts’ assessment, coal consumption should fall by one half as compared to the present level.

In comparison with the previous year report, IEA has significantly improved the forecast for the development of renewable energy sources (RESs) in all its scenarios. Within the frames of the major scenario, by 2040, RESs will be producing 37% of the global energy, while under the frames of the 450 Scenario, their quota is nearly 60%. The analysts believe that RESs will draw up to two thirds of global investments before 2040, because for many countries they are turning into the least cost-intensive power source of “new generation.”

The trends of abandoning coal and fast moving shift to RESs are getting so obvious that there is no way to ignore them.  The Powering Past Coal Alliance, the establishment of which was announced at the UN Climate Conference in Bonn in November 2017 (COP 23), has already united 58 governments, regions, and companies which had declared abandoning coal power plants. For example, France made a commitment to stop the entire power production based on coal by 2022.

In the European Union, renewable energy sources account for 80% of new capacities, while the wind energy will be the leading energy source by 2030. Growth of renewable energy sources is not limited by the energy sector only. Exploitation of RESs for heat supply and transportation needs has doubled all over the world.

IEA experts pointed out that millions of house holdings put in “smart” electric devices and install cooling systems using renewable energy sources. The growing flow of industrial initiatives and their political support inspire the experts to forecast an increase of the global park of electric cars from 2 million today to 280 million by 2040.

Forecasts of international analysts regarding the decrease of the role of coal and increase of the RESs quota coincide with the ideas on energy development expressed by representatives of public environmental organizations standing “for re-orientation of subsidies from fossil fuels in favor of RESs and energy efficiency” in their Position.