Renewables Set for Rebound In 2019
The expansion in global clean energy capacity is expected to rebound this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast, following a slow 2018.
The IEA predicts a 12% rise in capacity additions this year to nearly 200 GW, it said in a statement on September 20, marking the fastest climb since 2015. Growth will be driven by increased solar additions, due to soar by more than 17% this year, as well as increased wind energy supply.
Renewable net capacity additions by technology
Last year was the first since 2001 that growth in renewable capacity did not accelerate, according to the IEA, as a result of a change in Chinese government policy. The agency said this highlighted the critical role governments needed to play in supporting clean energy.
“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 IEA director Fatih Birol. “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 net capacity additions by country/region
Solar costs have fallen by 80% since 2010, with additions set to reach 115 GW this year despite slower growth in China. Weaker conditions in the Chinese market are being offset by a faster pace of expansion in the EU, particularly in Spain, as well as increased growth in India, Japan, Vietnam and the US.
The biggest source of uncertainty regarding future prospects is the Chinese solar market. The slowdown last year was chiefly because of Beijing’s decision to switch from feed-in tariffs (FiTs) to an auction-based system for encouraging development. Capacity growth is set to pick up in the second half, however, as the first of these auctioned projects are brought online.
The rebound is also supported by an increase in wind power additions of 15% to 53 GW, the IEA said. US developers are fast-tracking projects to take advantage of federal production tax credits before they are phased out, while in China, lower curtailment levels have led to more projects in several provinces this year. Offshore wind additions should remain stable at 5 GW in 2019, on the back of new start-ups in the EU and China.
A further 300 GW of renewables will need to be deployed on average each year by 2030 to achieve national goals set out in the Paris Agreement, the IEA 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,” Birol said.