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IRENA Renewable Energy Statistics 2018: China on Top!

The Renewable Energy Statistics 2018 released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) analyses the entire global renewable energy sector, giving comprehensive data sets on capacity and production of renewables for 2008-2017. Furthermore, the yearbook includes renewable energy balances for about 120 countries and areas for 2015 and 2016 and gives statistics on investments in the renewable energy sector.

According to the report, the global development of renewable energy over the years 2008-2017 experienced a stable gradual growth resulting in 2 179 426 megawatt (MW) of total generating capacity worldwide (1 060 668MW in 2008) in 2017. Producing a total of 917 322 MW, Asia is the leading region, with China whose capacity has grown almost four times over the past 9 years accounting for 618 675 MW. Europe’s share is 512 095 MW, 85% of which accounts for the European Union. Other powerful players in the world renewable energy market are USA (230 043 MW), Brazil (128 293 MW) and Germany (113 061 MW).

If we look at the single renewable energy source trends since 2008, the most impressive development is recorded in the solar energy sector whose capacity has grown almost 25 times – from 15 165MW in 2008 to 390 625 MW in 2017. The major driving force is China, with 130 646 MW of total solar energy capacity in 2017. With a total of 164 061 MW, the country is also responsible for about a third of wind power globally, which is almost the same wind energy capacity as the whole of the EU produces (169 208 MW). Other renewables like bioenergy, marine energy, solid biofuels and renewable waste are characterized by stable growth and have doubled their capacities since 2008. Total global capacity of geothermal energy is 12 894 MW. This sector, as well as marine energy, is one of the few renewables in which China does not have any significant achievements.

IRENA also provides information on a development of renewable electricity generation pointing out a 6.7% increase in 2016 compared to 2015. Hydro accounted for 70% of total 5 886 TWh of renewable electricity in 2016 worldwide followed by wind (16%), bioenergy (8%), solar energy (5%) and geothermal energy (1.5%). In 2016, Asia was the largest contributor to the growth of renewable electricity generation, with an increase of 182 TWh compared to 2015. Overtaking Europe in solar and wind power generation in 2016, Asia became the largest source of growth in the production of electricity from renewable sources, which is 182 TWh more than in 2015.

In 2016 the public investment in renewable energy was approximately USD 19 billion. This is about 25% lower than in 2015. This is partly due to the sharp drop in technology costs in recent years, according to the research.