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Renewable Energy Now Accounts for a Third of Global Power Capacity

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The decade-long trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity continued in 2018 with global additions of 171 gigawatts (GW), according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) today. The annual increase of 7.9 per cent was bolstered by new additions from solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84 per cent of the growth. A third of global power capacity is now based on renewable energy.  

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 per cent of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4 per cent, growth was fastest in Oceania that witnessed a 17.7 per cent rise in 2018. Africa’s 8.4 per cent growth put it in third place just behind Asia. Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies.

“Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “The strong growth in 2018 continues the remarkable 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 objectives and Sustainable Development Goals,” continued Mr. Amin. “Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonising their economies.”  

IRENA’s analysis also compared the growth in generation capacity of renewables versus non-renewable energy, mainly fossil-fuels and nuclear. While non-renewable generation capacity has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by about 85 GW since 2010, it has increased in both Asia and the Middle East over the same period. Since 2000, non-renewable generation capacity has expanded by about 115 GW per year (on average), with no discernible trend upwards or downwards.

Highlights by technology:

Hydropower: Growth in hydro continued to slow in 2018, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity in 2018 (+8.5 GW).

Wind energy: Global wind energy capacity increased by 49 GW in 2017. 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 expanding by more than 1 GW were: Brazil; France; Germany; India; and the UK

Bioenergy: Three countries accounted for over half of the relatively low level of bioenergy capacity expansion in 2018. China increased capacity by 2 GW and India by 700 MW. Capacity also increased in the UK by 900 MW

Solar energy: Solar energy capacity increased by 94 GW last year (+ 24 per cent). Asia continued 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.

Geothermal energy: 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.

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IRENA and UN Climate Change Join Forces to Accelerate Renewables as Climate Solution

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photo: IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) are jointly ramping up efforts to fight climate change by promoting the widespread adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy. The new strategic partnership builds on a long history of cooperation that aims to ensure a low-carbon climate-resilient world in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.  

In a Memorandum of Understanding signed today in Bonn between the heads of IRENA and UN Climate Change, the two organisations have agreed to step up the exchange of knowledge on energy transition, collaborate more closely at expert meetings, increase capacity building to promote renewables and undertake joint outreach activities.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said: “The rapid transition to clean energy is crucial to meet the central goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which is to hold the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Time is running out – we are already seeing worsening climate change impacts around the world –including unprecedented heatwaves – and we need to grasp all opportunities to rapidly deploy clean, renewable energy at scale to prevent the worst climate scenarios form becoming a reality.”

Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) added: “Falling technology costs have made solar, wind and other renewables the competitive backbone of energy decarbonisation and, together with energy efficiency, the most effective climate action tool available.

Renewable energy delivers jobs, delivers on sustainable development and will deliver a viable climate solution. The renewables-based energy transition provides a clear opportunity to increase ambition in the reviewing process of the national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. IRENA will fully support countries in realising this opportunity on the way to COP25 in Chile this year and to COP26 in 2020.”

UN Climate Change and IRENA are already working together to promote renewable energy, notably at expert meetings and through publications.

At a practical level, the organisations have jointly provided capacity building on renewable energy through training sessions, for example to several African countries.

IRENA is also one of the biggest supporters of the UNFCCC’s Global Climate Action work, designed to mobilise climate-related activities of cities, regions, businesses and investors.

The new agreement is designed to build on this work, and to expand regional activities in the field of clean technology.

IRENA

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African Development Bank helps power wind of change in Kenya

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Africa’s largest wind farm, a €620 million energy masterpiece boosting 365 turbines in northern Kenya, will help the East African nation stay on track to reach its target of 100% green energy by 2030.

Known as the Lake Turkana Wind Power, the 40,000 acre wind farm will generate around 310 megawatts of power to the national grid, enough to light up over 300,000 households.  

The winds sweeping the area start in the Indian Ocean and are channeled through the “Turkana corridor” created by Ethiopian and Kenyan highlands. They blow consistently at 11 miles per hour, making this an ideal area for situating wind turbines.

The wind farm will increase the country’s electricity supply by 13%. At its launch earlier this month, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “We again raise the bar for the continent …Kenya is without doubt on course to be a global leader in renewable energy.”

The African Development Bank served as lead arranger for €436 million in senior credit facilities towards the project cost of €623 million euros. The Bank also provided a partial risk guarantee from the African Development Fund of €20 million for the part of the project devoted to the transmission lines.

Since 2016, the Bank has invested around $4.5bn of its own resources in the energy sector.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina is in little doubt about the significance of the Bank’s funding. “African economic development is all about political will. We have little time and much to do for the continental transformation needed to light up and power Africa by 2025. Projects like the Lake Turkana Wind Power allow us to leap forward towards our key objectives. The Bank is very proud to be associated with this crucial addition to African infrastructure and clean energy generation”.

The continent has copious, even limitless, supplies of sun, water, and wind, as well as significant amounts of natural gas and other valuable natural resources and raw materials. Acccordingly, its New Deal is investing $12 billion over the next five years and leveraging up to $55 billion to achieve universal access to energy by 2025.

“This is a milestone that we are proud to celebrate. Kids can’t learn much in the dark. School books have to be put down when the sun sets. Life-saving vaccines can’t be preserved. Nurses and mid-wives have to deliver babies using lanterns or torches”, said Wale Shonibare, the Bank’s acting VicePresident for power, energy, climate change, and green growth.

“Turkana’s launch proves that we are determined to continue to work relentlessly to close Africa’s energy gap. Our efforts will be felt in hundreds of thousands of Kenyan households and beyond”, Shonibare added.

The site is Kenya’s largest renewable energy project and its biggest single private sector investment. The plant is expected to reduce power shortages by 12.5% and cut the cost of electricity in Kenya by up to 10%. It is proof of Kenya’s commitment to pursue clean sources of energy and provides a major boost to the country’s international commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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Commission approves support for six offshore wind farms in France

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The European Commission has found support to six large offshore wind farms in French territorial waters to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measures will help France reduce CO2 emissions, in line with EU energy and climate goals, without unduly distorting competition in the single market.

France intends to support six offshore wind farms for electricity generation. The six sites are located in French territorial waters off the North-Western coast of France. The sites are “Courselles-sur-Mer”, “Fécamp”, “Saint-Nazaire”, “Iles d’Yeu / Noirmoutier”, “Dieppe / Le Tréport” and “Saint-Brieuc”.

These are the first selected offshore wind projects supported by France. Each of the wind farms will be composed of 62 to 83 turbines with an installed capacity of 450 to 498 megawatts per farm. The selected installations will receive support in the form of feed-in tariffs over a period of 20 years. The construction of the first of the wind farms is to start this year and they should be operational as of 2022. Once finalised, the wind farms will increase France’s renewables generation capacity by about three gigawatts.

The Commission assessed the six support measures under EU State aid rules, in particular the Commission’s 2008 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection.

The Commission found that:

the support measures will help France boost its share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources to meet its climate targets, in line with the environmental objectives of the EU;

the level of aid granted to the six projects is proportionate and does not entail overcompensation of the beneficiaries, in line with the requirements of the Guidelines.

On this basis, the Commission has concluded that the measures will encourage the development of renewable energy and will help France meet its climate targets, without unduly distorting competition.

Background

The Commission’s 2008 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection allow Member States to support the production of electricity from renewable energy sources, subject to certain conditions. These rules are aimed at meeting the EU’s ambitious energy and climate targets at the least possible cost for taxpayers and without undue distortions of competition in the Single Market.

The Renewable Energy Directive established targets for all Member States’ shares of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption by 2020. For France that target is 23% by 2020. The projects aim to contribute to reaching that target.

More information on today’s decision will be available, once potential confidentiality issues have been resolved, in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website under the case numbers SA.45274, SA.45275, SA.45276, SA.47246, SA.47247 and SA.48007. The State Aid Weekly e-News lists new publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the EU Official Journal.

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