For the first time, global renewable electricity capacity has overtaken coal and has become the most important installed source of power. A total of 153 GW of renewables capacity were installed last year, and worldwide renewable capacity has now reached 1,985 GW, compared to 1,951 GW for coal. According to the IEA, 500,000 solar panels were installed every day last year.
Asian countries such as China or India have proven to be growing leaders in the sector. Thanks to new policies aiming at enhancing energy security and sustainability, 825 GW are predicted to be installed by 2021, according to the IEA.
The important recent decrease of costs for renewable energy has played a central role in the installation boost. This cost reduction trend, which is expected to continue, will be a key factor in driving renewable deployment
The world is witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables. Growth in this sector is anticipated to be increasingly concentrated in emerging and developing economies, with Asia taking the center stage.
In the next five years, the People’s Republic of China and India alone will account for almost half of global renewable capacity additions. India is currently targeting a total of 100 GW of installed solar power capacity, 60 GW of wind energy, 10 GW small hydro power, and 5 GW biomass-based power projects operational by March 2022.
A new report released in conjunction with the launch of The Asia Investor Group on cominate Change in September concluded that US$7.7 trillion in renewable energy and energy efficiency investments will be needed to meet the combined electricity demands of China, India, Japan and Southeast Asia.
In January, a global solar power coalition agreed to raise US$1 trillion to boost renewable energy capacity around the world. The International Solar Alliance (ISA), with a membership of over 120 countries and was launched by the Indian government, said the fund will be used for capacity building, developing innovative energy policies, implementing financial mechanisms for projects and for research and development.
Meanwhile, in Europe, solar power has already surpassed all forms of conventional and renewable resources to become the most-installed energy source on the ocntinent, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
Though the recent renewable installations have been focused on solar and wind, the most important renewable energy globally remains hydropower.