The past decade has witnessed significant developments in policies for renewable energy, which are driving its growth globally. In fact, new analysis from Frost & Sullivan forecasts the global installed capacity of renewable energy to more than double from 1,566 gigawatts (GW) in 2012 to 3,203 GW in 2025.
As a result of political and financial support, investments in renewables have risen dramatically in recent years. In fact, the European Union has set binding targets to source 20 percent of the bloc’s total energy consumption from renewable energy by 2020. Accordingly, individual member states have set renewable energy consumption targets ranging from 10 percent for Malta to 49 percent for Sweden.
Frost & Sullivan expects solar photovoltaic (PV) technology to account for 33.4 percent of total renewable energy capacity additions from 2012 to 2025, followed closely by wind at 32.7 percent, then hydro power at 25.3 percent.
Other renewable technologies will represent the remaining 8.6 percent of capacity additions, according to Frost & Sullivan; however, economic difficulties in many parts of the world are affecting the outlook for renewable energy. In much of the Western world, the research firm notes, the weak economic climate has impacted support schemes, which will continue to be the lifeline for many renewable energy installations until grid parity is achieved.
The decline in the cost of renewable energy due to technological innovation and scale economies achieved through mass deployment has enabled developing countries to adopt these technologies. In fact, global solar power capacity is due to increase from 93.7 GW in 2012 to 668.4 GW in 2025, Frost & Sullivan predicts; however, while solar PV is undergoing a veritable boom, massive price falls in this technology have greatly weakened the growth prospects of the concentrated solar power market.
In the wind power market, offshore wind will witness lower-than-expected growth, as political support wanes in Europe, the researcher predicts, with small-scale wind turbines opening up new applications, driving global wind capacity to 814 GW in 2025 from its 2012 level of 279 GW.
The global capacity of hydro power will rise from 1,085 GW in 2012 to 1,498 GW in 2025, Frost & Sullivan says, with China, Turkey, Brazil, Vietnam, India and Russia contributing strongly to this growth.
“It is little wonder then that renewable energy installations have seen a gradual shift in market power to emerging economies. On account of urbanization, population growth, energy security concerns, and strong economic development, regions such as Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa have increasingly been contributing to renewable energy capacity growth,” said Harald Thaler, energy and environmental industry director for Frost & Sullivan. “Beyond 2025, marine power technology will also be widely deployed as government willingness to back emerging technologies increases.”