Solar Energy Installations in 2017 Topped Gas, Coal and Nuclear Combined, Amid Steady Growth in Renewables
UN Photo/Pasqual Gorriz
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The International Renewable Energy Agency reported that global renewable energy generation capacity grew by 167 GW in 2017, representing a stable growth rate of 8.3%.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity grew by 32%, followed by wind energy at 10%, driven by significant cost reductions since 2010.

Another report found that new solar capacity in 2017 exceeded combined new capacity installations of coal, gas and nuclear plants.

5 April 2018: Data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and a joint report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Frankfurt School’s UNEP Collaborating Centre (FS-UNEP-CC), show that renewable energy generation capacity grew by 8.3% in 2017, similar to the average annual growth rate in previous years. Growth in solar capacity alone exceeded the combined new capacity installations of coal, gas and nuclear power.

According to the IRENA Renewable Capacity Statistics 2018 report, 167 GW of renewable energy generation capacity was installed in 2017. The global total reached 2,179 GW, maintaining a growth rate of around 8.3% for the seventh straight year. IRENA’s publication presents renewable power generation capacity statistics for 2008-2017 across 200 countries and territories.

The report notes that, in 2017, global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity grew by 32%, followed by wind energy growing by 10%. Underlying the growth were significant cost reductions for both technologies. Between 2010-2017 the levelized costs of electricity from solar PV fell by 73%, while that of onshore wind electricity fell by nearly 25%. The cost of both technologies is now within cost range of fossil-fuel based power.

The report also reviews capacity installation by region. China, the leader for global capacity installations, installed nearly half of all new 2017 capacity, followed by India with 10% of global installations. 64% of new capacity was installed in Asia, up from 58% in 2016. Europe installed 24 GW, followed by North America with 16 GW. Brazil’s installations increased tenfold to 1 GW. Off-grid renewable energy capacity, which is particularly important to provide energy access to people in remote areas, grew a record 10%, reaching 6.6 GW globally providing electricity to 146 million people.

In 2017, a record 98 GW of new solar PV installations came online globally, outpacing the year’s combined new capacity installations of coal, gas and nuclear power.

Coinciding with IRENA’s update, a joint report released by BNEF and FS-UNEP-CC confirmed that in 2017 a record 98 GW of new solar PV installations came online globally, outpacing the year’s combined new capacity installations of coal, gas and nuclear plants. China, the global leader, installed 53 GW. Additionally, the data showed that new global financial commitments reached US$279.8 billion, representing a 2% increase over 2016. Solar energy received the largest share of financing at US$160 billion.

These reports both underlined the potential for future growth in renewable energy. IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin noted that the heating, cooling and transportation sectors represented “substantial opportunity for growth of renewables.” BNEF and FS-UNEP-CC state that renewables currently provide 12.1% of global power supply, avoiding an estimated 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions, noting significant room for future expansion. [IRENA Report] [IRENA Press Release] [Climate Action Programme News Report] [Bloomberg New Energy Finance Blog Post] [FS UNEP Collaborating Centre, Global Trends in New Energy Investment Report] [UNFCC Press Release]

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