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September 28, 2011

Renewable energy shows strongest growth in global electric generating capacity

graph of global installed generation capacity by energy source, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2011.
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The U.S. Energy Information Administration's International Energy Outlook 2011 (IEO2011) projects that the amount of global hydroelectric and other renewable electric generating capacity will rise 2.7% per year through 2035, more than any other electricity generating source (see chart above). The IEO2011 also projects that China and India will lead the way in adding hydroelectric and renewable electric generating capacity.

Among renewables, installed hydroelectric power capacity is expected to increase more than other renewable sources between 2008 and 2035. However, installed solar power capacity sees the largest growth rate over the projection period, expanding 8.3% per year, based on EIA's IEO2011 released on September 19, followed by 5.7% for wind, 3.7% for geothermal, 2.0% for hydropower, and 1.4% for other renewables such as wood waste, landfill gas, and agricultural byproducts.

graph of global installed generation capacity by renewable source , as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2011.
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Long-term annual growth rates for global installed generating capacity are 2.0% for nuclear, 1.6% for natural gas-fired power plants, and 1.3% for coal, according to the IEO2011. The report estimates installed capacity of power plants running on petroleum products will fall by 1.0% a year, as higher oil costs and climate change concerns encourage a switch to cheaper and cleaner generating fuels.

The IEO2011 did not reflect changes in the nuclear policies of some countries following damage to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant this past spring.

In addition to having the highest annual growth rate, renewable energy sources are expected to account for the biggest share of total installed electric generating capacity by 2035, nearly a third at 2,372 gigawatts. Renewables are also the fastest growing energy source for actual electricity production, increasing 3.1% per year.

However, because renewable generators have average utilization rates well below those for other types of capacity, the level of renewable generation is expected to remain below that of coal, the dominant generation source, and other fuels.