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Renewable energy was on the rise in 2016


Renewable electricity generation capacity in the world continues to increase, having recorded  8.7 % growth in 2016, led mainly by solar power which has gained ground in the global energy mix, according to data published in the latest report by IRENA.

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Last March, IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) published the report “Renewable Capacity Statistics 2017”, which gathers data by technology and country on electricity generation capacity from renewable sources between 2007 and 2016.
The report ranks the results obtained in large geographical units: Africa, Asia, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean, Eurasia (Europe and Asia), Middle East, North America, Oceania and Latin America. In terms of technologies, it includes hydroelectric, marine, wind and solar power (photovoltaic and solar thermal), as well as bioenergy and geothermal power.In addition, reference is made to installed capacity outside of the grid for the first time that amounted to 2.8 GW in 2016, and where we find bioenergy top (50 %), followed by photovoltaic (40 %) and hydroelectric (10 %). It is estimated that up to 60 million households worldwide are benefiting from this kind of off-grid renewable energy.

All of the renewables studied in the IRENA report were on the rise, having recorded the most significant growth in 2016 since the year 2007.

In global terms, renewable energy capacity enjoyed an increase of some 8.7 % in 2016, which amounted to the most significant growth recorded since the year 2007. We have gone from the 1,845 GW installed in 2015, to 2,006 GW in 2016, and in that same year the installed capacity of all the technologies studied has grown. Marine energy only offered a minimum contribution with only 536 MW installed, and a growth that failed to reach 1 %, whereas solar power capacity has increased by more than 31 %.

These results have had an impact on the global renewable energy mix, where we see hydropower losing ground and falling a little from 62 % to 58 %, in favor of solar and wind power, which grew by three and one percentage points respectively.

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When geographies are examined, the report shows that Asia is still the world leader with 811 GW of renewable capacity. It comes out on top both in terms of installed GW (over 93 GW) and in capacity percentage increase (13 %). This means that 40 % of the global renewable capacity is installed in this geography, of which China accounts for 67 %, India 11 %, and Japan 9 %.

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Africa, despite making only a small overall contribution (38 GW installed), has seen its renewable capacity increase by 12 % which is the same figure for Central America and the Caribbean.

North America and Latin America grew by around 8 % and 7 % respectively, while the rest of the countries showed a 3 % or 4 % growth. Here we can include Europe, even though its renewable capacity growth has slowed continuously since 2011.

Major headlines to be highlighted in the IRENA report are:

  • New hydropower capacity that has been installed in 2016, particularly in Brazil and China (14.6 GW).
  • Almost three quarters of new wind power was installed in just four countries: China (19+ GW), USA (9+ GW), Germany (5+ GW) and India (4+ GW).
  • The largest increase in solar capacity last year took place in Asia, reaching 139 GW, and almost half of this was installed in China (34+ GW). The US, Japan and India also experienced a significant increase with 11+ GW, 8+ GW and 4+ GW respectively.
  • Asia also leads the growth in bioenergy (5.9+ GW) and is catching up with Europe in terms of renewable share, where we see that bioenergy accounts for 32 % of the Asian renewable energy mix, compared to 34 % recorded in Europe.
  • Geothermal energy capacity was 780 MW in 2016, and this increase was largely due to efforts in Kenia (485+ MW), Turkey (150+ MW), and Indonesia (95+ MW).
Eugenia Garrido Gil, General Technical Secretariat at Abengoa

Eugenia Garrido Gil, General Technical Secretariat at Abengoa

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