IRENA reports renewable energy now accounts for a third of global power capacity

In 2018, 171 GW of renewable energy capacity was added globally, according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Of this annual increase of 7.9%, solar and wind energy accounted for 84% of the growth. Thanks to this increase, a third of global power capacity is now based on renewable energy, IRENA says.  

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019 indicates growth in all regions of the world, although at varying speeds. Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies. While Asia accounted for 61% of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4%, growth was fastest in Oceania, which witnessed a 17.7% rise in 2018. Africa’s 8.4% growth put it in third place just behind Asia.

“Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “The strong growth in 2018 continues the remarkable trend of the last five years, which reflects an ongoing shift towards renewable power as the driver of global energy transformation. Renewable energy deployment needs to grow even faster, however, to ensure that we can achieve the global climate objectives and Sustainable Development Goals.”

IRENA’s analysis compared the growth in generation capacity of renewables versus non-renewable energy, mainly fossil fuels and nuclear. While non-renewable generation capacity has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by about 85 GW since 2010, it has increased in Asia and the Middle East over the same period. Since 2000, non-renewable generation capacity has expanded by about 115 GW per year (on average), with no discernible trend upwards or downwards.

Unfortunately for hydropower, growth continued to slow in 2018, IRENA says, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity, at about 8.5 GW.

Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – about a third of total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1,172 GW – about half of the total. Wind and solar energy account for most of the remainder, with capacities of 564 GW and 480 GW, respectively. Other renewables included 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tide, wave and ocean energy).

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