“The electricity sector’s uptake of renewables is well underway, but the transition for the heating/cooling and transport sectors has “barely begun,” according to the REN21 Renewables 2018 Global Status Report.
In China, the report said, solar PV was the leading source of new capacity in 2017, with new installations reaching 131 GW. Among the solar PV sectors in China, large centralized projects accounted for the most capacity additions last year, but distributed solar PV is growing. About 19 GW of distributed capacity was added, compared to 4.2 GW in 2016.
Wind power still beats solar in total global capacity, which reached 539 GW 2017. New installations, however, went down last year compared to 2015 and 2016, reaching 52 GW, the report said. Most of the reduction was due to continued slowing in China’s wind market, although it was still the leader in new installations at 19.7 GW. The U.S. was second with 7 GW, and Germany was third with 6.1 GW.
The decline in China, according to the report, comes from “restrictions on deployment in regions with high curtailment rates” and “a shift in focus to lower wind speed areas.” About 42 TWh of wind energy was curtailed in China last year.
With the powerful uptick in variable renewable electricity technologies, such as solar and wind, comes the inevitable issues related to integration and the demands of maintaining a reliable and efficient power grid. The report noted that energy storage is playing an increasing role in achieving greater renewable integration.
Heating and cooling accounted for about half of the world’s energy consumption in 2015, according to the report, and renewable energy provided about 10 percent of the consumption in 2017.