An emphasis on renewable energy

LIHUE — The world is getting closer to matching Kauai’s renewable energy profile, according to recent statistics, but Kauai is still strides ahead in renewable energy generation.

The International Renewable Energy Agency announced Tuesday that renewable energy now accounts for one-third of global power capacity. That percentage was detailed in the IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics for 2019.

Meanwhile, Kauai boasts about 50 percent of the electricity generated coming from a mixture of renewable resources. Statewide, Hawaii is sitting at about 30 percent of energy coming from renewable resources, according to state data.

Kauai is home to the 13 megawatt Tesla solar field and that allows Kauai Island Utility Cooperative — the island’s electricity provider— to store solar power during the day and dispatch it during peak evening demand.

That’s supplemented by hydro and biomass-generated energy. Solar generation and other steps in renewable energy led to KIUC being named in 2018 as the top utility in the nation for energy storage watts per customer by Smart Electric Power Association.

Globally, IRENA reports Asia accounted for 61 percent of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4 percent. Growth was fastest in Oceania — witnessing a 17.7 percent rise in 2018.

Africa’s 8.4 percent growth put it in third place just behind Asia. Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies.

Expansion in North America increased by 5.4 percent.

IRENA officials say the uptick in numbers mean renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity

“The strong growth in 2018 continues the remarkable trend of the last five years, which reflects an ongoing shift towards renewable power as the driver of global energy transformation,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1 172 GW – around half of the total.

Wind and solar energy account for most of the remainder with capacities of 564 GW and 480 GW respectively. Other renewables included 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tide, wave and ocean energy), IRENA reports.

••• Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com

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