Renewables fastest growing energy source in 2017

WORLDWIDE: Wind power accounted for the largest share of renewable growth last year as global energy demand grew by 2.1%.

The 247.4MW Blaiken project was the largest onshore wind farm commissioned in Europe last year, according to Windpower Intellligence (pic: Fortum)

Renewables had the highest growth rate of any energy source in 2017, meeting a quarter of the world's energy demand growth.

There was a 6.3% generation increase driven by an expansion of wind (accounting for 36% of the generation increase), solar PV (27%), hydropower (22%) and bioenergy (12%).

Following a 380TWh increase in 2017, renewables now account for 25% of global electricity generation, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Hydropower (65%) remains the largest source of renewables-based electricity generation, according to the IEA, however.

A figure is not given for other energy sources in the agency’s Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, which was published this month.

However, despite this expansion, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions reached an historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes, up by 1.4% in 2017, after three years of remaining flat, the IEA found.

"The robust global economy pushed up energy demand last year, which was mostly met by fossil fuels, while renewables made impressive strides," said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

"The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient."

Renewables expansion

China accounted for 40% of the combined growth in wind and solar PV, with a new record set in additional capacity and a reduced curtailment rate.

The US, meanwhile, accounted for nearly 40% of the increase in hydropower, while output in the European Union fell by nearly 10%, the IEA found.

In the European Union, wind set new records in both new overall capacity (15.6GW) and new offshore capacity (3.1GW).

Global wind capacity, meanwhile, reached about 510GW, the IEA stated. This figure differs from the 539.6GW global capacity quoted by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).