The REN21 Renewables 2019 Global Status Report provides strong evidence that renewable energy is now a fully mainstream element in the global electricity mix. Alongside energy efficiency, renewables are playing a critical role in reducing emissions in the energy sector and in end-use sectors. In many locations, new renewable energy is now the lowest-cost way to provide electricity services and can be brought online the fastest. Around the world, renewable electricity has spread thanks to both transferable and reliable technologies and effective policy frameworks.

Renewables accounted for


of new net electricity generation capacity in 2018.

Despite these significant advances, the deployment of renewable energy needs to be accelerated now, more than ever, if renewables are to play their full part in securing a sustainable future. More ambitious targets and comprehensive, predictable policies are necessary to further mainstream renewable electricity and, especially, to meet rising heating and cooling needs as well as energy demand in the rapidly growing transport sector.

With a higher level of ambition backed by continuous policy support, renewables can play a major role in responding to both the climate emergency and the global development imperative, delivering affordable energy services and increasing energy security. The success of renewables in the power sector has shown clearly that an energy transition is possible.

01Renewable power
is here to stay

Longstanding and ambitious commitments and stable regulatory policies have established renewables as a mainstream option in the power sector in nearly all parts of the world. The recent growth in renewable power capacity has been led by wind energy and solar photovoltaics (PV), with 100 gigawatts (GW) of new solar PV capacity alone installed in 2018. Hydropower remains the main contributor to the renewable electricity sector and has grown consistently for many years, having played a fundamental role in the power sector for longer than any other renewable energy technology. Bio-power, geothermal power and concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) also are contributing to growth but to a lesser degree.

In 2018, renewables accounted for about two-thirdsof global investment in power generation and for about the same share of new net electricity generation capacity. For the fourth consecutive year, more renewable power capacity was installed than net additions to fossil fuel capacity. (p See figure on page 10.)Renewables now represent more than one-third of the global installed electricity generation capacity.

The success of offshore wind power in Europe has sparked interest in almost every other region.

Renewable energy supplies more than a quarter (26%) of global electricity production. Not including hydropower, electricity generation from renewables has grown more than 10-fold since 2000, with wind energy and solar PV leading the way. Despite this promising growth, however, rising electricity demand worldwide poses challenges in increasing the share of renewable power in global electricity production.


The continued momentum of renewables in the power sector no longer depends entirely on just a few countries. Although annual installations and investment in China, the world leader in renewable capacity and investment, declined in 2018 compared to the previous year, the global deployment of renewables continued. Investment grew in other regions, including the European Union, as well as in a wide range of countries.


Renewables are now deployed in all regions of the world, with 17 countries boasting renewable power capacity (not including hydropower) greater than 10 GW – mainly wind power and solar PV – and 45 countries having capacity above 1 GW. If hydropower is included, more than 90 countries had more than 1 GW of renewable power capacity, and 30 countries had more than 10 GW. Across Africa and developing Asia, nearly 150 million people have gained access to electricity through off-grid solar PV systems. To continue the growth in renewables, supportive policy and regulatory frameworks are critical to create favourable conditions for renewable energy markets and industries and to provide a level playing field that fosters growth in the sector.

Nine countries generated more than


of their electricity with wind and solar PV.

Widespread policy commitments have been instrumental in mainstreaming renewable energy in power generation. In 2018, as many as 135 countries had regulatory policies (such as feed-in tariffs or utility quotas) in place for renewables in the power sector, compared to only around 75 countries in 2010. In some countries, a long-term vision, investment in research and development, and an industrial strategy have enabled global cost reductions in renewable technologies and attracted private sector finance. Based on the successes of pioneering countries, renewable energy technologies along with effective policy packages and business models have spread worldwide.

Growing experience with renewables around the world has shattered negative myths about their viability to meet global energy needs. Renewable energy technologies have been proven reliable and now provide the lowest-cost power generation options in many situations. Renewables also can be successfully integrated into grid operations: in 2018, at least nine countries generated more than 20% of their electricity with variable renewable energy (wind power and solar PV).


Renewable energy in the power sector has proven, again and again, that it can deliver as a cost-competitive solution while providing a variety of benefits. The technologies are ready to be put in place, and the policy models are waiting to be replicated and tailored to local conditions. With the right market conditions and policy frameworks, renewables can help countries anywhere in the world provide reliable electricity services, improve energy security and reduce harmful emissions and air pollution.


02Progress in the power sector offers major insights
for overcoming slow growth of renewables
in heating, cooling and transport.

03The pathway to a sustainable energy future
calls for vision, ambition and POLICIES

Tables and Figures