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Renewable electricity generation climbs to second place after coal

Renewable electricity generation overtook natural gas to become the second largest source of electricity worldwide producing 22% of total electricity in 2013, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In addition, global non-hydro renewable electricity, which rose to 1 256 TWh or 5.4% of global electricity production, surpassed oil-fired generation for the first time.

In the same year, electricity generated by coal reached its highest level yet at 9 613 TWh, representing 41.1% of global electricity production.  The growth in coal generation was driven by non-OECD countries.

The growth in non-hydro renewable electricity continued in 2014 and was driven by solar and wind.

In 2014, solar photovoltaic overtook solid biofuels to become the second largest source of non-hydro renewable electricity in OECD Europe, with a share of 17.3%.

Since 1990, solar photovoltaic has been increasing at an average growth rate of 44.6% per year, and wind at 27.1% per year.

However, China’s announcement regarding the devaluation of the Yuan by 2% due to a drop in exports will impact the solar market.

 With over 60% of global PV modules produced in China this will reduce module prices globally as exports from China become cheaper.

However, the EU minimum import pricing (MIP) on Chinese modules is set at €0.56/w and means that the EU will not benefit from these lower prices.

It is estimated that module prices in the EU are already 25% higher than global prices and with this news the difference could be increased even further as prices fall outside the EU.

In the recent KPMG/REA report, UK Solar Beyond Subsidy: The Transition, it is estimated that modules account for just over 50% of installation costs at UK sites, so any reduction in cost is important for the overall cost of the system.

The report makes clear that solar projects in the UK could be built without subsidy within the next few years provided there is stable policy support and costs continue to fall.

REA policy analyst Lauren Cook said: “As the solar industry moves to a world beyond subsidies, cost reduction in the installation process has become even more important in order to reach grid-parity more quickly.

“MIP has prevented module costs from coming down over the past few years and this additional cost has been funded through subsidies. It is extremely important for the solar industry that MIP is not extended beyond December 2015 to maintain a sustainable industry, which is also in the interests of all energy bill payers.”

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