The latest data published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) show that the trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity recorded in the last decade continued in 2018 with new global additions totaling 171 GW. The increase of 7.9 percent was bolstered by new solar and wind energy additions, which accounted for 84 percent of the total growth. A third of the global power capacity currently comes from renewable energies.
IRENA’s ‘Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019’ report, one of the most complete and updated in this field, concludes that renewable capacity has grown in all regions of the world, albeit at different rates. While Asia accounted for 61 percent of total new renewable energy facilities, Oceania was the fastest growing region with 17.7 percent, followed by Asia with 11.4 percent and Africa with 8.4 percent in 2018. About two thirds of the total new generation capacity added in 2018 comes from renewable sources. Emerging and developing economies led this growth.
“However, renewable energy capacity needs to grow even faster to ensure global climate goals and the SDGs are met”
“Thanks to its attractiveness as a business, as a competitive energy, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for the new generation capacity,” explained IRENA’s CEO, Adnan Amin. “The strong growth we witnessed in 2018 follows the trend of the last five years, which demonstrates a consolidated change towards renewable energy as a key element of the global energy transformation”, the top representative of the International Agency explained. “However, renewable energy capacity needs to grow even faster to ensure that we can achieve global climate goals and the Sustainable Development Goals,” Amin added.
The IRENA report also compares growth in the capacity of renewable energy generation with non-renewable energy, mainly fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Although the capacity for non-renewable generation has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by approximately 85 GW since 2010, it increased in Asia and the Middle East during the same period. Since 2000, non-renewable generation capacity has expanded by approximately 115 GW per year (on average), without a perceptible upward or downward trend.
Globally, the total capacity for renewable energy generation reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year.
Evolution broken-down by technologies
Hydropower: growth in hydropower continued to decline in 2018. Only China added a significant amount of new capacity in 2018 (+8.5 GW).
Wind power: the global capacity of wind energy increased by 49 GW in 2018. China and the United States accounted for most of the wind energy expansion, with increases of 20 GW and 7 GW, respectively. Other countries that expanded their wind energy production by more than 1 GW were: Germany; Brazil; France; India; and the United Kingdom.
Bioenergy: three countries accounted for more than half of the relatively low level of bioenergy capacity growth in 2018. China increased capacity by 2 GW and India by 700 MW. Capacity also increased in the United Kingdom by 900 MW.
Solar energy: solar capacity increased by 94 GW last year (+ 24%). Asia continued to lead global growth with an increase of 64 GW (around 70 percent of global expansion in 2018). As happened last year, China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea witnessed the highest growth. Other significant increases were experienced in the United States (+8.4 GW), Australia (+3.8 GW) and Germany (+3.6 GW). There was also significant growth in: Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, Mexico, Turkey and the Netherlands.
Geothermal energy: geothermal energy increased by 539 MW in 2018, and most of the expansion took place in Turkey (+219 MW) and Indonesia (+ 137 MW), followed by the United States, Mexico and New Zealand.
Globally, the total capacity for generating renewable energy reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year, approximately a third of the total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounted for the largest part with an installed capacity of 1,172 GW, approximately half of the total. Wind and solar energy accounted for the largest remaining part with capacities of 564 GW and 480 GW respectively. 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (energy from tides, waves and oceans) were also added.