IEA: Renewables will surpass natural gas for power generation by 2016

Electricity is produced from the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Electricity is produced from the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

One day after President Barack Obama called for expanding renewable energy projects on public lands in the United States during a landmark speech on combating climate change, the International Energy Agency reported Wednesday that global power generation from renewable energy will exceed that from natural gas by 2016.

Power generated by hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources will be twice that from nuclear power in just three years, the international agency reported in its second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report.

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The report acknowledged renewable energy still faces a complicated economic future, but said renewable power is expected to increase by 40 percent in the next five years and will make up almost a quarter of the global power mix by 2018.

That’s up from 20 percent in 2011.

Most of that is hydropower; the share of non-hydropower will double, reaching 8 percent by 2018, according to the agency.

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“As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” the agency’s executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, said as she presented the report at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York Wednesday, according to a news release. “This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an excuse for government complacency.”

Led by China, developing nations are expected to account for two-thirds of the global increase in renewable power generation between now and 2018, according to the agency.

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