Two thirds of all new capacity installed worldwide is now supplied from renewable sources, particularly thanks to growth in solar energy, according to a new report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA)*. Renewables currently account for 20% of ENGIE’s energy mix; the Group is aiming for them to contribute 25% to its production portfolio by 2020.
2016 was a record year for renewables. No less than 165 gigawatts of capacity was installed last year (primarily solar and wind power, which accounted for 80%). This is a 6% increase compared to 2015. This is only a start: having upgraded its forecasts, the IEA now projects 43% growth by 2022. The share of renewable energies in the global energy mix is expected to rise in the same period from the current level of 26% to 29%.
Although the IEA anticipates that coal will remain the world’s principal source of energy in 2022, renewables should continue to catch up gradually. The agency is predicting that renewable electricity generation will grow twice as fast as coal or natural gas, so that the gap will be halved in five years.
Solar photovoltaic energy is entering a new era, according to the IEA. Its worldwide capacity rose by approximately 50% in 2016. For the first time, growth in this particular source of energy has outstripped all the others, particularly coal (74 GW versus 57 GW). The IEA expects this growth to continue through to 2022.
This development is mainly due to the constantly falling cost of solar technologies and to the dynamism of the Chinese market, driven by a proactive policy (China has already exceeded the target it set for 2020 for solar energy).
ENGIE has made decarbonization one of its strategic priorities. No fewer than 750 of the power plants operated by ENGIE utilize energy sources producing the lowest levels of CO2 emissions (hydroelectric, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, biogas and marine energies). In 2016, the Group produced enough electricity and heat from these renewable sources to cover the total annual consumption of Canada.
ENGIE is a key player in the development of the solar industry at an international level, in China, for instance, where it invested in a 30% stake in the equity of Unisun in April, as well as in India, Chile, Mexico and European countries.
ENGIE focuses not only on decarbonized, but also decentralized energy. It strives to provide production as close as possible to points of consumption. This is reflected in particular by the development of local mini-networks operating with renewable energies. In Tanzania, for example, a mini-network of solar panels supplies power to the village of Ketumbeine.
The Group has also recently entered into partnership with Fenix, a company specializing in domestic solar installations in Africa. Their common aim is to provide access to energy to customers who are not supplied with electricity on the grid. They do this by installing domestic solar equipment, supplied on a lease-to-own basis.
According to the IEA, off-grid installations are expected to total around 3 GW in 2022, bringing “green” energy to an additional 70 million people.