May 20 (UPI) -- Due to delays in construction caused by lockdown measures, the number of new renewable power installations worldwide will decline in 2020 for first time in 20 years, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.
The IEA made the projection in its Renewable Market Update report.
Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis will result in a 13 percent decline in new renewable power capacity coming online this year -- some 167 gigawatts, the report said, although even the lower number represents a 6 percent growth in global capacity.
The growth pattern is forecast to quickly resume in 2021 and rebound to the level set in 2019, mainly due to two new hydropower projects in China and a rush to build new renewable installations in the United States before tax credits expire.
"The resilience of renewable electricity to the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis is good news but cannot be taken for granted," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. "Countries are continuing to build new wind turbines and solar plants, but at a much slower pace."
Despite the demand for renewable energy, Birol urged governments to keep sight of the "essential task of stepping up clean energy transitions to enable us to emerge from the crisis on a secure and sustainable path."
Recovery will be slower in more mature markets such as Europe, however, as global growth for 2020 and 2021 combined is expected to be 10 percent under the IEA's previous forecast.
Wednesday's outlook said solar installations will decline from 110 gigawatts in 2019 to 90 gigawatts this year, followed by a modest rebound in 2021, while decreases in onshore wind power will be "mostly compensated for" next year.
An analysis by the U.S. solar industry says it will employ 114,000 fewer workers by June than previously anticipated, a reduction to 2014 levels.