THE battle between clean energy and dirty coal has entered a new phase. The International Energy Agency (IEA), an industry forecaster, this week reported that in 2015 for the first time renewable energy passed coal as the world’s biggest source of power-generating capacity.

The IEA, whose projections for wind and solar energy have in the past been criticised as too low, accepted that renewables are transforming electricity markets. Last year 500,000 solar panels were installed every day around the world. In China alone, home to a whopping 40% of the 153 gigawatts (GW) of global growth in renewable-energy installations, two wind turbines were erected every hour. Based on existing policies, it forecasts that from 2015-21, 825GW of new renewable capacity will be added globally, 13% more than it projected just last year.

All those new wind and solar plants will not generate electricity all the time. Unlike coal, which burns around the clock, renewables are intermittent. But the IEA expects the share of renewables in total power generation to rise to almost 28% from 21%. Government policies to curb global warming and reduce air…Continue reading