Global renewables capacity set to increase by almost 12%

Global capacity additions of renewable power are set to increase by almost 12 per cent this year according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA states that solar PV has been a strong performer and claims that the expected growth rate for renewables this year will continue at the fastest pace since 2015, with 200GW capacity set to be reached.

The IEA’s analysis also predicts that global solar PV installations will increase by over 17 per cent.

The report highlights that last year was the first time since 2001 that growth in renewable power capacity failed to accelerate year on year, which it claims is largely due to a Chinese government policy change, with the IEA stating that the critical role of governments for the deployment of renewables and the need to avoid sudden policy changes that can result in strong market volatility is accentuated by 2018’s drop in growth.

Renewable capacity additions need to grow by more than 300 GW on average each year between 2018 and 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director believes the latest numbers provide many reasons to celebrate.

“Renewable electricity additions are now growing at their fastest pace in four years after a disappointing 2018,” he said.

“We are witnessing a drastic decline in the cost of solar power together with strong growth in onshore wind. And offshore wind is showing encouraging signs.

“These technologies are the mainstays of the world’s efforts to tackle climate change, reduce air pollution and provide energy access to all. The stark difference between this year’s trend and last year’s demonstrates the critical ability of government policies to change the trajectory we are on.”

The IEA study estimates that global solar PV capacity additions will increase to almost 115 GW this year, despite a slight decline in China, the world’s largest market, while 2019 is set to be the first year that solar PV additions have surpassed 100 GW and the third year in a row that they account for more than half of global renewable additions.

The report also notes that the cost of solar PV has plunged more than 80 per cent since 2010, making the technology increasingly competitive in many countries.

The research explains that softness in the Chinese solar PV market is being offset by faster expansion in the European Union, led by Spain, while a new installations boom in Vietnam and faster growth in India and the United States are also having an impact.

The pace of acceleration in the Chinese solar PV market remains the biggest uncertainty for the IEA’s 2019 estimates, with China’s policy transition from feed-in tariffs to competitive auctions resulted in relatively slow solar PV deployment in the first half of 2019.

However, the IEA’s prediction claims that installations in the second half of the year are expected to accelerate with the completion of the first projects linked to large-scale auctions and the emergence of projects that rely far less on incentives to compete with other power sources.

The rebound in renewables is also supported by higher onshore wind growth, according to the report, with capacity expected to rise 15 per cent to 53 GW, the largest increase since record deployment in 2015. Offshore wind growth is expected to be stable at around 5 GW in 2019, led by the European Union and China.

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