Global renewable energy capacity increased 120% since 2000

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17 June 2015

LONDON: Renewable energy capacity has grown 120% as of 2014, a new report reveals, marking a record year for the renewable power sector with 133 GW global net additions. But Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group says this growth is still not enough and must be further accelerated as we edge toward the global climate talks in Paris.

The report ‘Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2015’, released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), provides the most comprehensive, up-to-date figures on renewable energy capacity around the world, with over 12,000 data points from more than 200 countries and territories. It presents trends in development of the renewable energy sector, noting that over 100 GW of new renewable power capacity has been added every year since 2011.

Image: Renewable power capacity – cumulative capacity, from the report Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2015. Courtesy of IRENA

Authors explain that because more than 164 countries have adopted renewables targets, the market share of renewable energy has gained considerable ground, especially with the rapid increase of solar energy capacity over the last five years.

SOLAR GROWTH

Data from the IRENA report notes a decline in the share of hydropower from 93% in 2000 to 64% in 2014, as wind – and particularly solar – saw rapid growth over the same period.

The global total of solar capacity is growing fastest, with instalments reaching 179.6 GW last year. This is particularly the case in Germany and China, where it accounted for over a third of the global total.

Image: Renewable power capacity – net additions, from the report Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2015. Courtesy of IRENA

The figures echo the recent news that solar power generation (or production) now covers 1% of global electricity demand, a landmark for solar energy. It should be noted that capacity indicates the expected maximum output that a generator can produce, rather than current production.

“The growth rate of renewable energy capacity is impressive, as the IRENA report shows,” says Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group. says: “However, even this will not deliver the emissions reductions the world needs and the rate of growth could slow if accelerated action is not taken. Tougher, ambitious policy commitments to adopt more widespread use of renewables at a faster pace are still needed - especially as we edge closer to the UN climate summit in Paris at the end of the year, where a universal agreement on climate is set to be finalized.”

GLOBAL RENEWABLES

From a regional context, part of China’s climate pledge of getting 20% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2030 has received a considerable boost through solar installations so far in 2015, from 12 GW to 17.8 GW. This figure is only expected to increase as clean energy investment rises and solar panel production costs shrink in the country, Bloomberg reports.

And the rest of the world is closely following China. Global investment in clean energy is seeing its first boom since 2011, with solar, wind and hydro energy leading the way. As a result, 2013 saw renewable power capacity produce almost 22% of electricity worldwide, on par with electricity from gas, according to a different study from the International Energy Agency.

The upward trend for renewables instalments shown by IRENA and other researchers is a positive indicator of the current transitional shift to wide-scale clean energy. To closely follow this expanding shift in the Middle East and particularly in the United Arab Emirates, IRENA has just opened an highly-sustainable permanent headquarter in Masdar City.

IRENA
Image: The IRENA headquarter in Masdar City, United Arab Emirates

Renewables are also taking an ever-increasing market share with a growing number of leading companies committing to ambitious renewable power targets.

As part of The Climate Group’s RE100 program, an initiative in partnership with CDP that supports companies committed to 100% renewable power, IKEA, Infosys, M&S, Swiss Re, BT, Formula E, H&M, KPN, Mars, Nestle and Philips, among others, are setting bold renewable energy targets and taking steps to drive the clean energy revolution.

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by Andrew Pickens

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