Policy group REN21 published their Renewables 2018 Global Status Report (GSR) today and it shows that renewables accounted for 70% of new global power capacity last year.
The estimated 178 GW worth of renewable power generators installed during 2017 represented the largest annual increase to renewable capacity in history. The share of new power accounted for by renewables is up from 63% in 2016.
Just over half (55%) of the new renewable capacity installed was accounted for by Solar PV, with the bulk of the rest accounted for by wind (29%) and hydropower (11%).
Altogether, these increases pushed the world’s total renewable power capacity to 2,195 GW. Hydropower makes up around half of this total, and provided an estimated 62% of the world’s electricity produced last year through renewable means – equivalent to 16.4% of the overall total. Altogether, renewable sources provided 26.5% of the world’s electricity during 2017.
Hydropower has made up the bulk of the world’s renewable generators for a long time. Since 2007, the total stock of renewable power has more than doubled (from 1,000 GW to 2,195 GW), but this increase was driven largely by a more than six-fold increase non-hydropower capacity.
The GSR shows that a key factor behind this is cost:
“While the average global levelised costs of energy (LCOE) for the more mature technologies – bio-power, geothermal and hydropower – have remained relatively stable in recent years, solar and wind power have seen years of steady cost declines and are becoming ever more competitive for meeting new electricity generation needs.”
In particular, costs for utility-scale solar PV were 73% lower in 2017 than in 2010. Declines in costs for renewable generators of all kinds have been a key factor in the sector’s growth, along with increasing demand for electricity generally, and “targeted renewable energy support mechanisms”.
Despite positive growth in the renewable power sector, however, REN21 warn that more needs to be done in other sectors if global emissions reductions targets are to be met. For example, transport is one area that contributes significantly towards global GHG emissions and, despite some increased use of electric vehicles, 92% of the energy used in transport worldwide comes from oil.