Renewable Energy Now Accounts for One-Third of Global Power Capacity, Says New Report

This exciting new international report shows that renewable energy now accounts for one-third of all global power capacity.

The decade-long trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity continued in 2018 with global additions of 171 gigawatts, according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) earlier this week.

The annual increase of 7.9%t was bolstered by new additions from solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84% of the growth.

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity, indicates growth in all regions of the world, although at varying speeds. While Asia accounted for 61% of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4%, growth was fastest in Oceania with a 17.7% rise in 2018. Africa ranked in third place with 8.4% growth, and nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies.

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“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,” continued Mr. Amin. “Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonizing their economies.”

Growth in hydro continued to slow in 2018, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity in 2018 (+8.5 GW).

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Global wind energy capacity increased by 49 GW in 2018. China and the USA continued to account for the greatest share of wind energy expansion, with increases of 20 GW and 7 GW respectively. Other countries which expanded their wind energy capacity by more than 1 GW included Brazil, France, Germany, India, and the UK.

Solar energy capacity increased by a whopping 94 GW last year (+ 24 per cent) with Asia continuing to dominate global growth with a 64 GW increase (about 70% of the global expansion in 2018). Maintaining the trend from last year, China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea accounted for most of this. Other major increases were in the USA (+8.4 GW), Australia (+3.8 GW) and Germany (+3.6 GW). Other countries with significant expansions in 2018 included Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, Mexico, Turkey, and the Netherlands.

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Finally, geothermal energy increased by 539 MW in 2018, with most of the expansion taking place in Turkey (+219 MW) and Indonesia (+137 MW), followed by the USA, Mexico and New Zealand.

Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1,172 GW – around 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).

The full report is available here and more highlights of key findings can be found here.

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