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Renewable energy use gaining worldwide:IEA

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NEW YORK, June 25 AFP

June 27 2013, 08:30AM

Renewables like solar and wind power represent the fastest-growing source of energy generation and will make up a quarter of the global power mix by 2018, the International Energy Agency IEA says.

The IEA said that in 2016 renewable energy will overtake natural gas as a power source and will be twice that of nuclear, and second only to coal as a source of power.

The growth of renewables has been bolstered by increased competitiveness with conventional energy.

It is "a bright spot in an otherwise bleak assessment of global progress towards a cleaner and more diversified energy mix," said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

The report listed Australia as one of several countries where renewable energy was becoming more competitive.

It said Australian wind generation is cost-effective next to new coal and gas-fired plants with carbon pricing.

It also noted the success of onshore wind turbines in Brazil and South Africa.

Renewable energy is growing especially fast in China and other developing and emerging countries.

The IEA said non-hydro renewable power, mainly wind and solar photovoltaics, is projected to grow from four per cent of all power generation in 2011 to eight per cent in 2018.

"As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation," said van der Hoeven.

"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, especially among OECD countries."

Still, the IEA, an institute backed by major energy consuming countries, cautioned that the continued growth of alternatives to oil, gas and coal faces some important challenges.

These include uncertainty about long-term government policies that discourages investment, reduced subsidies in some countries because of economic problems, and tough competition from other energy sources, such as the US, where a boom in shale gas has made that fuel more competitive.

The report comes on the heels of recent research suggesting the threat of climate change is greater than earlier estimates.

An IEA report released earlier this month warned the world is on track to surpass by more than double the two-degree Celsius warming goal set by the United Nations, unless urgent measures are taken.

The IEA's recommendations include curtailing coal-fired power stations and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.