The recent IEA medium term renewable energy report has come in for some criticism from the Energy Watch Group - - IEA still low-balling solar growth, says Energy Watch Group.
All the major energy forecasts seem to underestimate renewable energy growth. Whether or not this is do do bias in favour of legacy energy sources or simply because they don't recognise the rate at which technology is improving and prices are dropping isn't clear - it would be interesting to have a look at the trends in the under-estimations over time...
The report found that last year saw 153 GW of new renewable capacity installed, while the headline figure picked up by many leading media outlets was that 500,000 solar panels were fitted every single day in 2015. However, the Energy Watch Group (EWG) – a long-term critic of the IEA’s calculations – has reported that the IEA has once again heavily underestimated the growth of wind and solar PV.
Despite a 13% increase in the IEA’s mid-term projections, the EWG’s analysis argues that these new calculations still suggest that wind and solar installations will peak in 2015 and 2016 respectively, with the five years between now and 2021 likely to see a slowing of the growth seen these past two years.
EWG chairman Christian Breyer calls these projections misleading, and remarked that the IEA is “playing a dangerous game” in relying on assumptions that err on the side of conservatism. Rather, the EWG analysis shows, solar growth between now and 2021 is likely to far exceed the projections laid out in the IEA report. As an example, India’s plan to install 90 GW of additional PV capacity to 2022 is off-handedly dismissed, with the IEA forecasting total PV growth in the whole of Asia Pacific will amount to 85 GW by 2021. “We would like to know why the IEA assumes that this policy target in India will not be achieved,” mused Breyer. “We have found no valid arguments in the report.”
There are accusations, too, of erroneous cost assumptions in the report, with EWG claiming that the IEA has overestimated the price of solar PV in major markets for 2016 by at least 20%. For example, PV power plants in India are currently averaging a cost of around $750/kWp, argues the EWG, whereas the IEA report says that “PV prices in leading markets should not be lower than $1,150 – $1,300/kWp”. The reality is that costs are already around 35% lower than that in China and Germany, the EWG analysis argues.