Renewables accounted for nearly three-quarters of global new capacity in 2019 | RenewEconomy

Renewables accounted for nearly three-quarters of global new capacity in 2019

New IRENA report shows renewable energy capacity additions accounted for nearly three-quarters of all new power expansion in 2019, adding 176GW of generating capacity.

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Global renewable energy capacity additions accounted for nearly three-quarters of all new power expansion in 2019, adding 176GW of generating capacity, with solar and wind accounting for 90% of all new renewable energy capacity.

These are the headline figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020 report published Monday, which highlighted renewable energy activity across the globe.

Global renewable energy capacity expanded by 7.6% in 2019, adding 176GW of new capacity, only slightly down on the (revised) 179GW which was added in 2018. Asia, unsurprisingly, led the way, accounting for 54% of new renewable energy capacity additions.

At the end of 2019, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 2,537GW – still led by hydropower with 1,190GW.

Renewable capacity expansion accounted for at least 70% of total power capacity expansion in almost all regions last year – with Africa and Middle East being the only two exceptions, with renewables accounting for only 52% and 26% respectively.

Even as the rate of expansion of renewables slowed in 2019 – likely a result of policy uncertainty across China’s renewable energy sectors – total renewable power growth nevertheless outpaced fossil fuel growth by a factor of 2.6. Long-term trends for non-renewable capacity expansion continued, with net growth in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and net decommissioning in Europe and North America.

Within the renewable energy sector itself, solar and wind accounted for 90% of all new renewable capacity additions in 2019. Specifically, solar added 98GW in 2019 – 60% of which was installed throughout Asia – whereas wind energy installed 60GW, led again by China which installed 26GW, and followed a distant second by the United States which installed 9GW.

Solar and wind now generate 623GW and 586GW respectively – close to half of all global renewable energy capacity.

“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “With renewable additions providing the majority of new capacity last year, it is clear that many countries and regions recognise the degree to which the energy transition can deliver positive outcomes.”

“While the trajectory is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation – both of which offer significant economic benefits. At this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies. In what must be the decade of action, enabling policies are needed to increase investments and accelerate renewables adoption.”

Other technologies saw growth, but on scales much less impressive than the two dominant renewable energy technologies, wind and solar. Hydropower installed 12GW, bioenergy installed 6GW, geothermal installed 700MW, and marine energy installed 500MW.

Regionally, Asia saw renewable energy capacity expansion grow at a slightly slower pace than in 2018, responsible for over half of all new installations with 95.5GW of new capacity. Growth in Europe and North America also increased year-on-year, up 35.3GW and 22.3GW respectively.

Africa installed only 2GW of new renewable energy capacity in 2019, only half what it installed in 2018, while the Middle East installed 2.5GW. Oceania, with cumulative capacity of 40GW, installed 6.2GW of new capacity in 2019.

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