According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), global capacity additions of renewable power are set to grow by almost 12 per cent this year to reach almost 200 GW, the fastest pace since 2015.
The significant growth is mostly thanks to solar PV and wind, with global PV additions expected to increase by over 17 per cent and onshore wind growth predicted to rise 15 per cent to 53 GW, the largest increase since record deployment in 2015.
Offshore wind growth is expected to be stable at around 5 GW in 2019, led by the European Union and China.
Market rebound will be further supported as renewables are implemented as paths to meet climate targets, a more attractive option as associated technology becomes more cost effective and policy frameworks soften to a more inclusive grid.
“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,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “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.”
Renewable capacity additions need to grow by more than 300 GW on average each year between 2018 and 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario. Renewable energy plays a major role in curbing global emissions and providing universal access to affordable, secure, sustainable and modern energy.
“These technologies are the mainstays of the world’s efforts to tackle climate change, reduce air pollution and provide energy access to all,” Dr Birol said. “The stark difference between this year’s trend and last year’s demonstrates the critical ability of government policies to change the trajectory we are on.”
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 cost of solar PV has plunged more than 80% since 2010, making the technology increasingly competitive in many countries. The IEA estimates that global solar PV capacity additions will increase to almost 115 GW this year, despite a slight decline in China, the world’s largest market.
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. 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. However, 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.