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IEA Flags ‘Deeply Worrying’ Stagnation in Renewable Energy Growth

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The International Energy Agency is raising the alarm over 2018 statistics that show annual growth in renewable energy deployments stagnating for the first time since the turn of the century.

New capacity additions totalled 177 gigawatts (GW) last year, the same as in 2017, Renewables Now reports. To meet the targets in the 2015 Paris Agreement based on the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario [1], new capacity would have to average more than 300 GW per year between 2018 and 2030.

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“These 2018 data are deeply worrying, but smart and determined policies can get renewable capacity additions back on an upward trend,” said [3] IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “The world cannot afford to press ‘pause’ on the expansion of renewables, and governments need to act quickly to correct this situation and enable a faster flow of new projects.”

The IEA “also warned that the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by the energy sector increased by 1.7%, to 33 gigatonnes, despite 7% growth in the electricity production from renewables,” Renewables Now notes.

Country-by-country data from the IEA release reflect new capacity additions declining from 82 to 77 GW in China, from 23 to 22 GW in the European Union, from 15 to 14 GW in India, and from 8 to 7 GW in Japan, while growing from 17 to 18 GW in the United States and from 32 to 40 GW in other countries. The agency’s analysis shows growth in solar photovoltaics offsetting slower gains in wind and hydroelectric power since 2015, but levelling off last year, largely due to a sudden change in solar incentives in China.

“Thanks to rapidly declining costs, the competitiveness of renewables is no longer heavily tied to financial incentives,” Birol said. “What they mainly need are stable policies supported by a long-term vision, but also a focus on integrating renewables into power systems in a cost-effective and optimal way. Stop-and-go policies are particularly harmful to markets and jobs.”