Renewable energy sources now account for around a third of all global power capacity, according to new figures published this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency, which revealed 171 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable capacity was installed in 2018.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published its annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019 report on Tuesday, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity, which revealed that there was renewable energy growth in all regions around the globe, though at varying levels. In total, 171 GW of new renewable energy capacity was added in 2018, an annual increase of 7.9% which was driven primarily by new wind and solar capacity additions.
But while Asia accounted for 61% of total new renewable energy installations, growing its regional installed capacity by 11.4%, it was actually the Oceanic region which saw the fastest speed of growth, increasing its capacity by 17.7%. Africa came in third with 8.4%.
This brings total renewable energy generation capacity up to a whopping 2,351 GW as of the end of 2018, accounting for around a third of the globe’s total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower remains the largest renewable energy source based on installed capacity, with 1,172 GW, followed by wind energy with 564 GW and solar power with 480 GW.
Specifically, solar energy dominated in 2018, installing an impressive 94 GW (contrasting with various 2018 solar installation figures that have been reported over the opening months of 2018). Asia continued to lead the way with 64 GW — accounting for around 70% of the global expansion last year — thanks to dominant performances from China, India, Japan, and South Korea. Other countries, however, also saw impressive growth, including the United States with 8.4 GW added in 2018, Australia with 3.8 GW, and Germany with 3.6 GW.
Wind energy was the second largest new renewable energy source last year, adding 49 GW led by China and the United States which installed 20 GW and 7 GW respectively.
Hydropower, bioenergy, and geothermal energy also increased, though, again, to varying degrees of success.
“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. Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonising their economies.”