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The rate of addition new renewable energy capacity globally last year disappointed by failing to register any increase on 2017, the International Energy Agency reported, adding that the finding was unexpected after almost two decades of strong and steady growth.
Last year new renewable capacity additions–including solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower—totaled 180 GW, the same as a year earlier. But what’s more worrying than the lack of annual growth is the fact this amount of new capacity only represents 60 percent of the necessary renewables capacity that the world has to add in order to meet long-term climate change goals, the IEA said.
Among the different types of renewable energy, solar was by far the leader, with total additions at 97 GW last year, unchanged on 2017. Wind power capacity additions, however, inched up to 50 GW last year, from 48 GW in 2017. New hydropower capacity additions, however, declined to 20 GW in 2018, from 25 GW in 2017.
If the Paris Agreement 2050 climate goals are to be met, however, total renewable capacity in the world needs to expand by 300 GW annually until 2030. That’s under the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, which seems increasingly unlikely to play out especially after last year carbon emissions from the energy industry increased by 1.7 percent to a record high of 33 gigatons. That was despite a 7-percent increase in power generation from renewable sources. To add insult to injury, emissions from the power generation sector also rose to record highs last year.
“The world cannot afford to press “pause” on the expansion of renewables and governments need to act quickly to correct this situation and enable a faster flow of new projects,” the IEA’s head, Fatih Birol said, commenting on the findings. “Thanks to rapidly declining costs, the competitiveness of renewables is no longer heavily tied to financial incentives. What they mainly need are stable policies supported by a long-term vision but also a focus on integrating renewables into power systems in a cost-effective and optimal way.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.