Renewables record highest growth rate than any other fuel in 2017 - IEA


Renewable energy saw the highest growth rate of any other energy source in 2017, according to the latest data by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In its report on energy and CO2 emissions trends, the IEA says that renewables met a quarter of world energy demand growth last year. The rise of wind and solar PV was unprecedented, notes the UN body. Wind accounted for 36% of the renewables growth, solar PV accounted for 27%, while hydropower and bioenergy added 22% and 12% respectively. As a result, solar PV global capacity approached 400 GW and wind reached 510 GW.

China accounted for 40% of the combined growth in wind and solar, overtaking the United States to become the world leader for non-hydro renewables electricity. The country added over 50 GW of new PV capacity, an amount that exceeds its combined additions of coal, gas and nuclear, and is equivalent to the total solar capacity of France and Germany together.

The US added 10 GW of solar, down 30% compared to 2016 but still the second highest year on record. India also added 8 GW of solar PV capacity, double the additions of 2016. In the European Union wind saw a record of 15.6 GW new capacity, of which 3.1 GW offshore.

Global energy demand grew by 2.1%, more than twice the growth rate in 2016, and energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 1.4% last year, raising concerns about the world’s ability to meet the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change. Despite the rapid growth of renewables, fossil fuels still accounted for 81% of total energy demand in 2017, a level that has remained stable for more than three decades, noted the IEA.

In a separate report, British energy company BP said that onshore wind is set to become the most economical source of electricity by 2050, with grid-scale solar power also becoming more competitive. However, there will be integration costs to overcome intermittency.

Claudia Delpero

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