According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity continued in 2018 with a worldwide increase of 171 gigawatts. Solar energy accounts for the most important part of the growth.
The annual increase of 7.9% was supported by new capacity for solar and wind energy, together accounting for 84% of the growth. A third of global power capacity now comes from renewable energy sources.
IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity, points to growth in all regions of the world. Although at different speeds. The fastest growth occurred in Oceania (17.7% increase in 2018), followed by Asia (11.4%) and Africa (8.4%). No less than two thirds of all additional power capacity in 2018 came from renewable energy sources, mainly in emerging and developing economies.
Yet there is still room for improvement. “The share of renewable energy still needs to grow faster to ensure that we can achieve global climate goals and sustainable development goals,” says IRENA Director General Adnan Z. Amin. “Countries that fully exploit their renewable energy potential will be able to enjoy many socio-economic benefits, apart from making their economy low in carbon.”
Largest growth thanks to solar power
The largest growth was realized by solar energy. Global capacity increased by more than 94 GW (+ 24%) in 2018, of which Asia accounted for no less than 64 GW. Other large increases were observed in the United States (+8.4 GW), Australia (+ 3.8 GW) and Germany (+3.6 GW). Other countries with significant expansions in 2018 were Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, Mexico, Turkey and the Netherlands.
Worldwide, the total capacity for generating renewable energy reached a total figure of 2,491 GW at the end of 2018. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1,172 GW. Wind and solar energy also account for a large share with a capacity of 564 GW and 480 GW respectively. Other renewable energy sources include 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tidal, wave and ocean energy).