Everyone – except people in the fossil fuel business, of course, wants to see cleaner energy, less expensive energy, more reliable energy. Here’s a status report that gives us a sense of what’s happening … not “likely to happen” or “will hopefully happen,” but is already happening … now.
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This exciting new international report shows that renewable energy now accounts for one-third of all global power capacity.
Good News Network
April 9, 2019
The decade-long trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity continued in 2018 with global additions of 171 gigawatts, according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) earlier this week.
The annual increase of 7.9%t was bolstered by new additions from solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84% of the growth.
IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity, indicates growth in all regions of the world, although at varying speeds. While Asia accounted for 61% of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4%, growth was fastest in Oceania with a 17.7% rise in 2018. Africa ranked in third place with 8.4% growth, and nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies.
IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said …
“Through it’s a compelling business case, renewable
energy has established itself as the technology of
choice for new power generation capacity. The
strong growth in 2018 continues the remark-
able trend of the last five years, which reflects
an ongoing shift towards renewable power as
the driver of global energy transformation.
“Renewable energy deployment needs to
grow even faster, however, to ensure that
we can achieve the global climate object-
tives and Sustainable Development Goals.
Countries taking full advantage of their
renewables potential will benefit from a
host of socioeconomic benefits in addi-
tion to decarbonizing their economies.”
Growth in hydro continued to slow in 2018, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity in 2018 (+8.5 GW).
Global wind energy capacity increased by 49 GW in 2018. China and the USA continued to account for the greatest share of wind energy expansion, with increases of 20 GW and 7 GW respectively. Other countries which expanded their wind energy capacity by more than 1 GW included Brazil, France, Germany, India, and the UK.
Solar energy capacity increased by a whopping 94 GW last year (+ 24 per cent) with Asia continuing to dominate global growth with a 64 GW increase (about 70% of the global expansion in 2018). Maintaining the trend from last year, China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea accounted for most of this. Other major increases were in the USA (+8.4 GW), Australia (+3.8 GW) and Germany (+3.6 GW). Other countries with significant expansions in 2018 included Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, Mexico, Turkey, and the Netherlands.
Finally, geothermal energy increased by 539 MW in 2018, with most of the expansion taking place in Turkey (+219 MW) and Indonesia (+137 MW), followed by the USA, Mexico and New Zealand.
Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1,172 GW – around half of the total. Wind and solar energy account for most of the remainder with capacities of 564 GW and 480 GW respectively. Other renewables included 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tide, wave and ocean energy).
The full report is available here and more highlights of key findings can be found.
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I recall a recent pre-election meeting sponsored by the local Sierra Club in which candidates for local office made statements and were then open to respond to citizen questions. One environmentally-related question was about supporting electric car use to help reduce local air pollution. The response (paraphrased) was …
“When electric cars become
practical, I’ll think about it.”
In Europe, over 50% of all new car sales are electric. And that’s 2018 data; the percent has been growing every year. Some European countries now boast that nearly 100% of their entire energy generation is from renewable sources. Are Europeans simply not practical?
Last year, Wall Street rated Tesla as more valuable than Ford! Perhaps the gurus on Wall Street are also not practical.
And a west coast highway that goes all the way from Mexico to Canada has electric car recharge stations no more than 40 miles apart. Perhaps the west coast governments and utility companies were simply not being practical, as well.
Personally, about five years ago, I bought an electric SMART convertible. As it’s owned by Mercedes, it has to comply with Mercedes’ stricter safety standards. It’s a kick to drive, costs only $230 a year for maintenance – as there are no spark plugs to replace, engines to tune, mufflers to replace, oil to change, etc. And as I have photovoltaic panels on my roof, I pay absolutely nothing per mile to drive it. But … I guess I’m just not being practical.
If you recall, not too many years ago, if you wanted organic food you had to seek out a small specialty food store, typically run by hippies. Then some larger stores, such as Whole Foods, sprouted up … taking some business away from established supermarkets. Now those very supermarkets feature a large and diverse variety of organic food. It’s a market-driven change, led by us impractical individuals.
Even with less educated politicians, and politicians who receive campaign support from polluting corporations, U.S. renewable energy has still been growing at a crisp rate. I guess more of us are also not being practical.
Of course, when you go to sell your old gas-powered SUV, or fossil fuel powered home, and get offers that are less than what you’d like, you’ll at least take solace knowing that what you’ve done has at least been … practical.
Perhaps, dear reader, you’ll demand that your next home or car is also powered, 100%, by renewable sources. Then you could be impractical, too!