Global renewable power production increased by 6.3% on the year in 2017, thanks mainly to wind, solar and hydropower capacity additions, and green sources covered 25% of the world’s power demand.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report on Thursday that the growth rate for renewables was the highest among all energy sources last year.
Overall, global demand was up 2.1% in 2017, more than twice the rate of growth in 2016, mainly pushed by China and India. Most of the increase in demand was covered by oil, gas and coal generation, while renewables “made impressive strides,” said Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director.
The rise in renewables was fuelled by “unprecedented growth” in China and the US, which accounted for around 50% of the increase in power production. Electricity from renewable energy sources in the European Union (EU) rose by 8% and by 6% in Japan and India.
By technology, wind and photovoltaic (PV) power contributed the most to growth in the year with shares of 36% and 27%, respectively. For solar in particular, China was the driving force on that market with over 50 GW of new capacity additions.
Hydropower accounted for 22% of the overall increase in the global renewables output, while bioenergy had a 12% share.
According to the IEA’s figures, biofuels production climbed by just 2% last year due to a longer-term downward trend in new production capacity investment.
The higher energy demand in 2017, coupled with a slowdown in energy efficiency improvements, resulted in a 1.4% increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels to a historical high of 32.5 gigatonnes. The growth comes after three years of flat emissions. EIA said that most major economies saw emissions increase, but the US, the UK Mexico and Japan achieved lower emissions. The biggest drop was observed in the US on the back of higher renewables deployment.