Global renewable energy report shows systemic change is urgently needed

17 June 2020

REN21’s Renewables 2020 Global Status Report (GSR) highlights the impressive growth in renewables over the past five years but points out that governments need to take further action now to ensure a clean energy future.

REN21’s annual report, to which IHA contributes data and analysis on the hydropower sector, is a comprehensive overview of the state of renewable energy. More than 200 GW of new renewable power generating capacity was installed in 2019, the largest increase ever, raising the total globally to 2,588 GW. Of this, hydropower capacity is 1,308 GW.

Renewables accounted for 75 per cent of the global power generating capacity additions. Solar PV appears at the top of the list with 57 per cent, followed by wind (30 per cent) and hydropower (8 per cent). The rapid growth in the installed capacity and penetration of variable renewable electricity (VRE) sources highlights the need for hydropower’s storage and flexibility services.

Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH) is the most developed energy storage technology in the world. According to the report, the global energy storage market reached 183 GW in 2019, with PSH accounting for 158 GW.

Hybrid systems have a prominent role in providing grid flexibility while decreasing costs and delivering technical benefits. The report presents examples of new hybrid projects of hydropower/solar in Brazil, the Philippines, Russia, and Uganda.

Despite the high growth of renewables in the power sector, REN21 cautions that this should be balanced against the continued growth in global energy demand and the low percentage of renewables in the heating, cooling and transport sectors.

Covid-19 economic stimulus recovery packages provide a unique opportunity to make a systemic shift to a low-carbon economy, but only if governments prioritise “green” recovery measures.

Such measures can deliver job creation and energy security, as well as reduced emissions and air pollution.

“It is clear, renewable power has become mainstream and that is great to see. But the progress in this one sector should not lead us to believe that renewables are guaranteed success. Governments need to take action beyond economic recovery packages. They also need to create the rules and the environment to switch to an efficient and renewables-based energy system. Globally. Now.” concludes Arthouros Zervos, President of REN21.

Eddie Rich, IHA’s CEO, says that there has never been a better time to reassess the global energy system: “It is vitally important that economic stimulus packages not only maximise the short-term benefits of infrastructure investment, but also accelerate the transition towards cleaner and lower-carbon technologies such as hydropower.”

Read more about IHA’s work to influence a green economic recovery.

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