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Renewables 2019 Global Status Report (GSR-2019): 26% of the world's electricity is renewable

IRENA Renewable Energy Statistics, 2019

The Renewables Global Status Report (GSR-2019) is the 14th edition of an annual overview of the state of renewable energy worldwide produced by the international policy network REN21. GSR-2019 provides data for 2018, which was a stable year for renewable energy technologies. 181 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power were added in 2018 compared to 178 GW in 2017. The global renewable power capacity therefore totalled 2,378 GW (8% more than in 2017).
According to the report, as in the previous year, the major gains in renewable energy are still focused in the power sector, while progress in heating and cooling remains low due to a lack of policy support. The European Union is one of the few regions that support renewable heat technologies at national level, establishing binding targets in this sector. Although the number of electric passenger cars keeps rising (63% more compared with 2017) and ethanol and biodiesel production is increasing, the global progress in the transportation sector is developing slowly, reaching 3.3% of renewable energy share in 2018.
At the end of 2018 renewable energy accounted for about 33% of the world’s total newly-installed power generating capacity. With 100 GW of installed capacity, solar photovoltaic (PV) is at the top of the list, accounting for 55% of renewable capacity additions, ahead of wind power (28%) and hydropower (11%). More than 90 countries had installed at least 1 GW of generating capacity; about 30 countries exceeded 10 GW capacity. As in many previous years, China was on the top for installed renewable power generating capacity, far ahead of the United States, Brazil, India and Germany. To put this in perspective, China’s renewable power capacity is 30% higher than the whole of the EU. China leads the way by additions in all renewable energy technologies except geothermal power and CSP, where Turkey and Spain, respectively, are claiming the top positions. The USA is the largest biodiesel and ethanol producer.
Nothing has changed in the top five countries with total renewable power capacity or generation per capita – Iceland, as a major producer of geothermal energy, ranks first, followed by Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Finland. Germany has the most solar PV capacity per capita, Denmark leads the way in wind power per head of the population.
More and more electricity is produced from renewable energy sources each year. At the end of 2018 renewables provided over 26% of the world's electricity. The leading source is still hydropower accounting for about 60% of renewable electricity followed by wind power (21%), solar PV (9%) and bio-power (8%). Geothermal, CSP and ocean power together with 0.4% represent the smallest part of the renewable electricity. Each year more countries generate over 20% of their electricity with PV and wind. Denmark has by far the highest share - 51%, ahead of Uruguay (36%), Ireland (29%), Germany (26%) and Portugal (24%). For the first time ever, the EU produced over 15% of its annual electricity from wind power and solar PV.
In 2018, global new investments in renewable power and fuels were USD 288.9 billion (not including hydropower projects larger than 50 MW), an 11% decrease compared to the previous year. This is mainly because of plummeting investment in China. If we take into consideration hydropower projects larger than 50 MW, total new investments in renewable power and fuels were at least USD 304.9 billion in 2018.
Each year, employment rates in the renewable energy sector keep rising and spreading to ever more countries. In 2018, all renewable energy industries provided around 11 million jobs worldwide with solar photovoltaics as the largest employer.