Charting the rapid rise of renewables in the power sector

In the ongoing energy transition, the power sector is the one that saw the most significant acceleration in renewable energy deployment. Although great progress has been achieved over the last decade, renewable energy deployment in the power sector is expected to continue at high pace, leading the transformation of the global energy system.

Solar and wind saw a very aggressive decrease in cost, which started a virtuous cycle of deployment, learning effects leading to cost reduction and further acceleration of deployment due to increase competitiveness. During the last decade, fossil fuel prices have been characterized by extreme volatility. However, this did not slow down renewable energy deployment in the power system, regardless competitiveness was better in certain years than others.

The large scale deployment of renewables in the power sector also triggered a wave of innovation on technology, business models and policy. IRENA has been covering these topics through related work streams.

Increased efforts are necessary to scale up renewable energy deployment outside of the power sector. However, electrification of end use sectors is gaining momentum, leveraging the accelerated renewable energy deployment in the power sector to displace fossil fuels consumption into end use sectors. Electric vehicles are a prominent area of interest and significant potential remains to be exploited in the electrification of heating and industrial processes, as well as production of fuels (e.g. hydrogen) from renewable electricity.

The vast majority of IRENA’s work is relevant for, and related to, the power sector. Some of the key statistics and publications can be accessed through the Quick Links in this page.