Photo: Illustration/AR1500 tidal turbine for MeyGen tidal array project (Photo: Atlantis Resources)

Marine energy hits 500MW in a year behind us

New data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has shown the renewable energy sector’s generation capacity increased by 167GW to reach the total of 2,179GW worldwide in 2017.

The figures represent a yearly growth of around 8.3%, the average for seven straight years in a row, according to IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2018 report.

The report has revealed that the generation capacity of tidal, wave and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) sources combined grew to the total of 500MW reached at the end of last year.

In annual capacity growth terms, solar energy took first place again – with a capacity increase of 94GW, followed by wind energy with an increase of 47GW.

Hydropower and bioenergy capacities increased by 21GW and 5GW respectively, while geothermal energy increased by just under 1GW.

Containing nearly 15,000 data points from more than 200 countries and territories, the report pointed out that renewable capacity expansion continues to be driven mostly by new installations of solar and wind energy, which together accounted for 85% of all new capacity installed in 2017, according to IRENA.

Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General, said: “This latest data confirms that the global energy transition continues to move forward at a fast pace, thanks to rapidly falling prices, technology improvements and an increasingly favorable policy environment.

“Renewable energy is now the solution for countries looking to support economic growth and job creation, just as it is for those seeking to limit carbon emissions, expand energy access, reduce air pollution and improve energy security.”

(Image: IRENA)

Asia accounted for 64% of new capacity in 2017 – up from 58% last year – resulting in a total of 919GW or 42% of global capacity. Europe added 24GW or 4.8% more of new capacity in 2017, followed by North America with 16GW or 4.9%.

Off-grid renewables capacity saw unprecedented growth in 2017, according to IRENA, with an estimated 6.6GW serving off-grid customers. This represents a 10% growth from last year, with around 146 million people now using off-grid renewables, the report revealed.