The global renewable energy generation capacity increased by 167 gigawatt (GW) to reach 2,179 GW by the end of 2017, representing an average yearly growth of around 8.3% for seven straight years, according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future with 156 members (155 States and the European Union).
The IRENA disclosed relevant data in its newly published report entitled “Renewable Capacity Statistics 2018”, which is the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity statistics, as it contains nearly 15,000 data points from more than 200 countries and territories.
According to the report, solar photovoltaics (PV) grew by a whopping 32 percent in 2017, followed by wind energy, which saw a 10 percent growth.
Underlying this growth are substantial cost reductions, with the cost of electricity from solar PV decreasing by 73 percent, and onshore wind by nearly one-quarter, between 2010 and 2017. Both energy technologies are now well within the cost range of power generated by fossil fuels.
China continued to contribute the most of global renewable generation capacity additions, installing nearly half of all new capacity in 2017. 10% of all new capacity came from India, mostly in solar and wind.
Asia accounted for 64 percent of the new capacity additions in 2017, 6 percent higher than the level recorded in last year. Europe added 24 GW of new capacity in 2017, followed by North America’s 16 GW.
As for hydropower, the amount of new hydro capacity commissioned in 2017 was the lowest seen in the last decade, the IRENA said. Brazil and China together contributed 12.4 GW or 60 percent of this expansion.
Asia continued to account for most of the growth in bio-energy capacity, with increases of 2.1 GW in China, 510 MW in India and 430 MW in Thailand.
In addition, geothermal power capacity grew in 2017 by 644 MW, most of which were seen in Indonesia (306 MW) and Turkey (243 MW).
The above data demonstrates that the global energy transition continues to move forward at a fast pace, mainly due to rapidly falling prices, technology improvements and an increasingly favorable policy environment. “Renewable energy is now the solution for countries looking to support economic growth and job creation, just as it is for those seeking to limit carbon emissions, expand energy access, reduce air pollution and improve energy security,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
There is no doubt that the emergence and use of renewable energy is a positive global trend but more time is needed to develop technology and management in this field.
In the foreseeable future, fossil fuel will still be the major source of energy in the world. As predicted by different energy organizations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), fossil fuel will still account for about 57 to 79 percent of source of energy worldwide in 2040.