Global renewable generation rises in 2018 led by solar and wind

Energize Weekly, April 10, 2019

Global renewable electric generating capacity rose 7.9 percent in 2018, adding 171 gigawatts (GW), with wind and solar installations accounting for 84 percent of the new generation, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The majority of new renewable installations, 61 percent or 105 GW, were in Asia, giving the region 11.4 percent year-on-year growth. The fastest growth in 2018 was in Oceania at 17.7 percent. Africa was the third fastest growing region for renewables with an 8.4 percent increase.

Almost two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables and a third of global generating capacity—2,351 GW—now comes from renewable sources, IRENA said.

“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,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said in a statement.

Solar installations dominated the new capacity in 2018, accounting for 94 GW, a 24 percent increase over 2017 and 53 percent of the year’s new renewable capacity. Since 2009, global solar capacity has increased twentyfold to 485 GW.

China, India, Japan and South Korea accounted for most of the Asian expansion. The United States added 3.8 GW, and Germany added 3.6 GW. Other countries significantly expanding their solar generation were Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Turkey, Pakistan and the Netherlands.

In 2018, global wind capacity rose by 9.5 percent or 49 GW, putting worldwide wind generation at 564 GW.

China with 20 GW of new wind installations and the United States with 7 GW represented the biggest share of wind development. Other countries expanding by more than 1 GW were Brazil, France, Germany, India and the United Kingdom.

Hydropower development continued to slow in 2018, increasing 1.6 percent with only China adding a substantial new capacity, 8.5 GW. Total global hydropower is 1,172 GW.

Bioenergy increases were focused in three countries with China adding 2 GW, India 700 megawatts (MW), and the United Kingdom adding 900 MW. Overall, bioenergy capacity was up about 5 percent to 116 GW.

Geothermal energy expansion was also centered on a few countries with most of the new capacity in Turkey, which had a 219-MW increase, Indonesia, 173 MW, followed by the United States, Mexico and New Zealand.

Hydropower accounts for about half the global renewable capacity with wind and solar making up 44 percent. Bioenergy had the next largest share, 5 percent.

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