Global renewable energy capacity has grown to reach 2,351 Gigawatts at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity as nations continue efforts to develop solar, wind, hydro and other forms of sustainable power, a report said.
The annual increase of 7.9 per cent compared to 2017 was driven by solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84 per cent of the growth, according to the report from Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organisation responsible for promoting sustainable adoption and use of renewable energy. Overall, 171 GW of new renewable energy were added last year, according to Irena's Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019 report.
“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 Amin, in a statement.
“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.”
Of the total renewable generation capacity in 2018, hydropower accounted for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1,172GW, around 50 per cent of the total.
Wind and solar energy accounted for most of the remainder with capacities of 564GW and 480GW, respectively. Bioenergy accounted for 121GW, geothermal energy for 13GW and marine energy (tidal, wave and ocean energy) for 500 MW.
While wind and solar energy both saw a marked annual rise in adoption last year, hydropower growth continued to slow, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity, the report added.
China and the US accounted for the biggest growth in wind power, while Asia, the US, Australia and Germany were the biggest adopters of solar energy in 2018. Geothermal continued to account for the smallest proportion of renewable energy.
Overall, Oceania – including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and others – accounted for the fastest year-on-year growth in renewables adoption (17.7 per cent), even though Asia accounted for 61 per cent of total new renewables installations.
Africa’s 8.4 per cent growth put it in third place just behind Asia. Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies, Irena’s report said.
However, Mr Amin urged increased take-up in 2019. “Renewable energy deployment needs to grow even faster, to ensure that we can achieve the global climate objectives and Sustainable Development Goals [set by the United Nations],” he said. “Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonising their economies.”
While non-renewable generation capacity has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by about 85GW since 2010, it has increased in Asia and the Middle East over the same period, according to the report.