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IEA chief defends record of forecasting renewable energy growth


* Birol says 95% of projections were 'completely right'
* IEA happy to make changes depending on policy positions

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The head of the International Energy Agency on Tuesday defended the organization's success in forecasting the growth in renewable energies, having been accused of underestimating the sector's rapid development and its impact on the global energy mix.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, speaking in London at the launch of the agency's latest World Energy Outlook, also said the IEA always stands ready to amend its forecasts in the light of government policy changes on renewable energy.

Among those critical of the IEA's record on renewables forecasting is the UK-based financial think-tank Carbon Tracker Initiative.

In October, it said that the IEA had been "hugely conservative" in the past in its assessment of renewable energy growth.

It said that the speed and scale of advancements in the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies were exceeding expectations.

Birol said the IEA had been extremely accurate in its previous forecasts on renewables.

"95% of our projections on renewables were completely right -- for hydro and wind," Birol said.

He said it was only in solar power -- which accounts for just 0.1% of the global energy mix -- where the forecasts differed.

"In our scenarios we look at the support of governments. If the support of governments increases, then we increase the projections," he said.

Birol said that the IEA's forecasts for solar power were accurate under one of its long-term assumption scenarios.

"We make projections based on current policies. When policy changes, our numbers change," he said.

Birol added that if the policy environment shifts again before publication of its next World Energy Outlook, the numbers would have to revised again.

"We are happy to revise our projections [for renewables] upward if there is a policy signal," Birol said, pointing to the possibility of a global accord on climate change emerging from the COP21 talks in Paris next month.

--Stuart Elliott,
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles,