Global renewable power capacity additions in 2019 are set to rebound to double-digit growth, driven by solar PV’s strong performance, according to the International Energy Agency's (IEA) statement on Friday.
The IEA expects renewable capacity additions to grow by almost 12% to reach almost 200 gigawatts (GW) in 2019 compared to last year – the fastest pace since 2015.
The world added 180 gigawatts of renewable power in 2018 from which solar contributed 97 GW. Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency's statistics.
"Last year was the first time since 2001 that growth in renewable power capacity failed to accelerate year on year, largely due to a Chinese government policy change. This highlights 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," the IEA said in the statement.
The agency said that renewables have a major part to play in curbing global emissions and providing universal access to affordable, secure, sustainable and modern energy.
To this end, and as per the agency’s Sustainable Development Scenario, renewable capacity additions need to grow by more than 300 gigawatts on average each year between 2018 and 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
-Solar to surpass 100-gigawatt mark
Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director said the forecast for 2019 looks promising.
“These latest numbers give us many reasons to celebrate: Renewable electricity additions are now growing at their fastest pace in four years after a disappointing 2018,” Birol was quoted as saying.
“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," he said.
The cost of solar PV has plunged more than 80% since 2010, making the technology increasingly competitive in many countries, the IEA said in its statement.
The double-digit increase of this year is mostly thanks to solar of which capacity additions are expected to increase by over 17% to mount 115 gigawatts despite a slight decline in China, the world's largest market, according to the IEA.
The 115-gigawatt capacity increase this year is set to be the first year that solar PV additions have surpassed 100 gigawatts and the third consecutive year that they account for more than half of global renewable additions, the statistics show.
The softness in the Chinese solar PV market is being offset by faster expansion in the European Union, led by Spain, a new installations boom in Vietnam as developers rush to complete projects before incentive cuts and faster growth in India and the United States, the IEA finds.
Japanese solar PV developers are also expediting the commissioning of projects to meet deadlines for higher incentives.
"The pace of acceleration in the Chinese solar PV market remains the biggest uncertainty for the IEA’s 2019 estimates. China’s policy transition from feed-in tariffs to competitive auctions resulted in relatively slow solar PV deployment in the first half of 2019," the statement read.
"But 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," it continued.
The rebound in renewables is also supported by higher onshore wind growth, which is expected to rise 15% to 53 gigawatts, the largest increase since record deployment in 2015, the statistics showed.
The IEA said that in the U.S., project developers have accelerated deployment before the phase-out of federal production tax credits while in China, lower curtailment levels have unlocked additional growth in several provinces this year, enabling faster expansion.
Offshore wind growth is expected to remain stable at around 5 gigawatts in 2019, led by the European Union and China.
“These technologies are the mainstays of the world’s efforts to tackle climate change, reduce air pollution and provide energy access to all,” Birol said, adding that the stark difference between the trend this year and last year demonstrates the critical ability of government policies to change current trajectories.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya