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    Global Renewable Capacity Flatlines in 2018: IEA


It was also a year that saw CO2 emissions rise.

by: William Powell

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Global Renewable Capacity Flatlines in 2018: IEA

After nearly two decades of strong annual growth, renewables around the world added no more capacity in 2018 than they did in 2017, the International Energy Agency said May 6. It was the first year since 2001 that growth in renewable power capacity failed to increase year on year.

At the same time, energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to a historic high of 33 gigatons, despite a growth of 7% in renewables electricity generation. Emissions from the power sector grew to record levels, it said.

The main reason for capacity stalling was a sudden change in China's solar photo-voltaics incentives. Other factors were lower wind additions in the European Union (EU) and India.

New net capacity from solar PV, wind, hydro, bioenergy, and other renewable power sources increased by about 180 GW, which the IEA says is only around 60% of what is needed to meet long-term climate goals.

It estimates that 300 GW of new capacity is needed each year between 2018 and 2030 to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, although replacing coal with gas in the power sector also reduces carbon emissions, says the gas industry. 

The IEA CEO Fatih Birol commented: "The world cannot afford to press 'pause' on the expansion of renewables and governments need to act quickly to correct this situation and enable a faster flow of new projects." 

China added 44 GW of solar PV in 2018, compared with 53 GW in 2017. Growth was stable in the US, but solar PV additions rose in the European Union, Mexico, the Middle East and Africa, which together compensated for the slowdown in China. 

Renewable capacity expansion accelerated in many emerging economies and developing countries in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia, led by wind and solar PV as a result of rapid cost declines.