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Solar Leads Decade of Investment in Renewable Energy

A record 167 GW of new renewable energy capacity was completed in 2018, up from 160 GW in 2017

Global investment in new renewable energy capacity this decade — 2010 to 2019 inclusive — is on course to hit $2.6 trillion, with more gigawatts of solar power capacity installed than any other generation technology, new figures published on Thursday said.

According to the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019 report, released ahead of the UN Global Climate Action Summit on September 23, this investment is set to have roughly quadrupled renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydro of more than 50MW) from 414 GW at the end of 2009 to 1,650 GW when the decade closes at the end of this year.

Solar power will have drawn half — $1.3 trillion — of the $2.6 trillion in renewable energy investments made over the decade.

By this year’s end, solar capacity will have risen to more than 26 times the 2009 level — from 25 GW to an estimated 663 GW, an increase of 638 GW.

The global share of electricity generation accounted for by renewables reached 12.9 per cent in 2018, up from 11.6 per cent in 2017.

This avoided an estimated two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions last year alone — a substantial saving given global power sector emissions of 13.7 billion tonnes in 2018.

Including all generating technologies (fossil and zero-carbon), the decade is set to see a net 2,366 GW of additional power capacity installed, with solar accounting for the largest single share (638 GW), coal second (529 GW), and wind and gas in third and fourth places (487 GW and 438 GW, respectively).

Global, Energy, Climate Change
In the next 30 years, the world will see a dramatic rise in energy demand due to the impact of climate change, say researchers. Pixabay

The cost-competitiveness of renewables has also risen dramatically over the decade.

The levelized cost of electricity (a measure that allows comparison of different methods of electricity generation on a consistent basis) is down 81 per cent for solar photovoltaics since 2009; that for onshore wind is down 46 per cent.

“Investing in renewable energy is investing in a sustainable and profitable future, as the last decade of incredible growth in renewables has shown,” UN Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen said in a statement.

“But we cannot afford to be complacent. Global power sector emissions have risen about 10 per cent over this period. It is clear that we need to rapidly step up the pace of the global switch to renewables if we are to meet international climate and development goals.”

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The report, released annually since 2007, also continued its traditional look at yearly figures, with global investment in renewables capacity hitting $272.9 billion in 2018.

While this was 12 per cent down over the previous year, 2018 was the ninth successive year in which capacity investment exceeded $200 billion and the fifth successive year above $250 billion.

It was also about three times the global investment in coal and gas-fired generation capacity combined.

The 2018 figure was achieved despite continuing falls in the capital cost of solar and wind projects, and despite a policy change that hit investment in China in the second half of the year.

A record 167 GW of new renewable energy capacity was completed in 2018, up from 160 GW in 2017. (IANS)

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