Renewables capacity to double by 2029 with Asia leading expansion – report

China will account for 42 percent of new capacity, driven by a surge in solar power projects, but Western Europe will be the ‘regional outperformer’ in terms of utilisation, Fitch Solutions says.

Renewables capacity will double through 2029, with the Asia-Pacific region and solar power being the main drivers of this expansion, Fitch Solutions said in a report published last week.

The firm reported that total non-hydro renewable capacity at the end of 2019 was around 1,340GW, and that it is expected to exceed 2,600GW by the end of 2029. Fitch Solutions defines non-hydro renewables as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and wave, biomass and waste-to-energy.

China is expected to account for 42 percent or 557GW of new capacity and solar power is expected to total 740GW within the coming decade, thereby outpacing wind energy’s 550GW total over the same timeframe.

Daine Loh, power and renewables analyst at Fitch Solutions, told Infrastructure Investor: “The fast growth of solar power is largely due to the rapidly falling technology costs, the technology’s scope for decentralised capacity development, and faster installation timelines.

“Given that solar power projects often can be developed in a matter of months, compared to years – which often is the case for other technology-type projects – they have become increasingly attractive in a number of emerging markets as a way to quickly boost electrification levels. Decentralised development in the form of rooftop or off-grid solar can also circumvent the need for extensive transmission infrastructure, which typically takes a long lead time to build.”

The report stated that Asia-Pacific will experience the fastest rate of renewables growth in the coming decade. The region is projected to add a net renewables capacity of more than 800GW between the end of 2019 and the end of 2029.

Fitch Solutions said the US will be the second fastest expanding renewables market, with an additional 182GW. The report stated that the country would be aided in this regard by tax credits in the short term and, increasingly, by state-level initiatives and the growing competitiveness of renewables technologies.

India is projected to follow closely behind, with an expected addition of 136GW over the same period. This will be supported by the government’s target of increasing renewables generating capacity to 450MW by 2030.

However, when it comes to utilisation, Western Europe “will be the regional outperformer”. Fitch Solutions has forecast that non-hydro renewables will comprise 39 percent of total power generation in the region by 2029, the highest proportion in the world. This will be driven by the phasing out of conventional power generation, which Fitch Solutions expects will fall from 33.3 percent in 2019 to 25.2 percent by 2029.

“By 2029, the total amount of non-hydro renewables capacity will almost equal the total amount of thermal power capacity, and account for the largest source of generation by 2023,” the report said.