According to the latest statistics from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), global renewable energy (RE) generation capacity hit 2,179 GW last year. Leading the charge were renewable hydro, onshore wind and solar PV.
Up 8.3% on 2016, last year saw the addition of 167 GW of renewable energy capacity says IRENA, thus taking cumulative capacity to 2,179 GW.
Hydropower accounts for the lion’s share of this, at 1,270 GW, followed by wind at 514 GW (around 495 GW of onshore and 19 GW of offshore) and solar at 390 GW (around 285 GW of PV and 5 GW of CSP).
Overall, solar saw the most impressive year-on-year growth, at 32%, according to IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2018 report, with wind seeing growth of just 10%. And while hydro still comprises the most capacity, that commissioned in 2017 was said to be the lowest seen in the last decade.
“Underlying this growth are substantial cost reductions, with the levelised cost of electricity from solar PV decreasing by 73%, and onshore wind by nearly one-quarter, between 2010 and 2017. Both technologies are now well within the cost range of power generated by fossil fuels,” says IRENA.
Off-grid renewables capacity saw “unprecedented” growth in 2017, with an estimated 6.6 GW of new capacity. Representing 10% growth on 2016, around 146 million people are now said to benefit from off-grid installations.
Similar to the situation in solar PV, China dominated global renewable energy capacity last year, installing nearly half of all new capacity, while India followed in second place.
Overall, Asia accounted for 64% of new renewable energy capacity additions in 2017, up from 58% last year, calculates IRENA. It also dominated the solar PV market too, comprising 72 GW of the just under 100 GW installed globally. Europe accounted for 24 GW, meanwhile, and North America, 16 GW.
In related news, IHS Markit has also said today that the global solar PV market will see 113 GW of new installations in 2018. Of this, the top 10 markets – China, India, United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey and Egypt – are expected to comprise 92 GW.