Global Renewable Energy Generation Grew 8.3% in 2017, IRENA Report Shows

Chart from IRENA report shows global renewable energy capacity.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently issued its annual Renewable Capacity Statistics report that includes nearly 1,500 data points from more than 200 countries and territories.

According to the report, the world’s renewable energy generation capacity grew by 167 gigawatts in 2017. In fact, it has grown by an average of 8.3 percent annually for the past seven years in a row! Overall, the planet’s total renewable energy output has more than doubled over the past decade, from 1,058 gigawatts in 2008 to 2,179 gigawatts at the end of 2017.

On pace with global trends, the United States’ renewable energy market grew by 6.4 percent last year, from 215 gigawatts to nearly 230.

As expected, wind and solar energy saw the most growth in 2017, both nationally and worldwide. Global solar PV output grew by a staggering 32 percent, with wind energy following at 10 percent. The continued increase in the implementation of both technologies can be attributed to significant reductions in their cost; the levelized cost of electricity produced by both wind and solar is now within the range of power generated by fossil fuels.

A perfect demonstration of the ongoing trend is Xcel Energy’s recent report showcasing 350 renewable energy project bids the Colorado utility company received from independent developers. Both wind and solar proposals boasted the lowest prices per megawatt-hour ever quoted for such projects in the United States.

Learn more about Xcel’s record-setting announcement.

According to IRENA, five countries were responsible for the three-quarters of the wind generating capacity added in 2017. China led the group with 15 gigawatts; both the United States and Germany added 6 gigawatts each, followed by the United Kingdom and India at 4 gigawatts each.

The State of Renewable Energy in the United States

In line with global data, the United States saw a consistent increase across all renewable energy sectors over the past year. Renewable hydropower output grew slightly from 83,696 to 83,841 megawatts; wind energy rose from 81,287 to 87,544 megawatts and solar spiked from 34,716 to 42,889 megawatts.

The data above reflects the capacity installed and connected to the grid at the end of the 2017 calendar year.

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