Methodological Notes

This 2014 report follows eight previous editions of the Renewables Global Status Report (GSR), produced since 2005 (with the exception of 2008). Readers are directed to the previous GSR editions for historical details.

Most 2013 data for national and global capacity, output, growth, and investment portrayed in this report are preliminary. Where necessary, information and data that are conflicting, partial, or older are reconciled by using reasoned expert judgment. Endnotes provide additional details, including references, supporting information, and assumptions where relevant.(See Sidebar 1 on renewable energy data and related challenges.)

Each edition draws from thousands of published and unpublished references, including: reports from international organisations and industry associations; input from the GSR community via hundreds of questionnaires submitted by country, regional, and technology contributors, and feedback from several rounds of formal and informal reviews; additional personal communications with scores of international experts; as well as a variety of electronic newsletters, news media, and other sources.

Much of the data found in the GSR is built from the ground up by the authors with the aid of these resources. This often involves extrapolation of older data, based on recent changes in key countries within a sector, or based on recent growth rates and global trends. Other data, often very specific and narrow in scope, come more-or-less prepared from third parties. The GSR attempts to synthesise these datapoints into a collective whole for the focus year.

The GSR endeavours to cover accurately, on a global level, all data related to renewable energy markets and industries, policy developments, as well as renewable energy-related advances to expand energy access in developing countries. It aims to provide the best data available in each successive edition; as such, data should not be compared with previous versions of this report to ascertain year-by-year changes.

NOTE ON ACCOUNTING AND REPORTING

A number of issues arise when counting renewable energy capacities and energy output. Some of these are discussed below:

1. CAPACITY VERSUS ENERGY DATA

The GSR aims to give accurate estimates of capacity additions and totals, as well as of electricity, heat, and transport fuel production in the past year. These measures are subject to some uncertainty, with the level of uncertainty differing from technology to technology. The section on Market and Industry Trends includes estimates for energy produced where possible but, due to data constraints, focusses mainly on electricity or heat capacity data. This is because capacity data generally can be estimated with a greater degree of certainty. Further, actual heat and electricity generation data for most countries are usually available only 12 months or more after the fact, and sometimes not at all. In addition, capacity data better mimic nvestment trends over time.

2. CONSTRUCTED CAPACITY VERSUS CONNECTED CAPACITY AND OPERATIONAL CAPACITY

Over the past few years, the solar PV and wind power markets have seen increasing amounts of capacity that was connected to the electricity grid but not yet deemed officially operational, or constructed capacity that was not connected to the grid by year-end (and, in turn, capacitythat was installed in one year but connected to the grid during the next). This phenomenon has been particularly evident for wind power installations in China (2009-2013), as well as for solar PV in some European countries in recent years.

Starting with the 2012 edition, the GSR has aimed to count only capacity additions that were grid-connected, or that otherwise went into service (e.g., capacity intended for off-grid use), during the previous calendar year. However, there may be exceptions borne out of necessity of data availability (as with China, for example). Known deviations to this approach are outlined in the text and/or endnotes for the technology sections.

The reasoning is that the sources from which the GSR draws have varying methodologies for counting installations, and many official bodies report grid connection statistics. As a result, in many countries the data for actual installations are becoming ncreasingly difficult to obtain. Some renewable industry groups, including the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and the Global Wind Energy Council, haveshiftedtotrackingand reporting on operational/grid-connected rather than installed capacities.

3. BIO-POWER DATA

Given existing complexities and constraints (see Figure 5 in this report, and Sidebar 2 in GSR 2012), the GSR strives to provide the best and latest available data regarding biomass energy developments. The reporting of biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) systems varies among countries, which adds to the challenges experienced when assessing total heat and electricity capacities and total bioenergy outputs. Wherever possible, the bio-power data presented include capacity and generation from both electricity-only and CHP systems using solid biomass, landfill gas, biogas, and liquid biofuels.

4. GEOTHERMAL HEAT AND HEAT PUMPS

Starting with GSR 2014, ground-source (geothermal) heat pump capacity and output is not included in the section on geothermal energy. Ground-source, air-source (aerothermal), and water-source (hydrothermal) heat pumps are all discussed in Sidebar 4. Consequently, estimates of geothermal heat capacity and utilisation provided in the geothermal section are lower than in some previous editions. This change is also reflected in Figure 1, although the scale of the change relative to other technologies is so small that it does not affect the figure.

This adjustment was made for several reasons: 1) ground-source heat pumps are but one of three categories of heat pumps, differentiated only by their source/sink, and should be covered along with other types; 2) data are severely lacking on global installed heat pump capacity and output; and 3) although a common methodology on defining the renewable component of heat pump output has been formulated in Europe, uncertainty about specific technology and operating efficiencies globally make the data on heat-pump derived/enabled renewable energy output even murkier.(See Sidebar 4.)

5. HYDROPOWER DATA REVISION AND TREATMENT OF PUMPED STORAGE

The GSR 2013 reported a global total of 990 GW at the end of 2012. This figure has been revised downward in this edition by 30 GW, due primarily to the availability of improved data. The reduction also reflects further removal of capacity that has been identified as pure pumped storage (see below).

The adjustment to global hydropower capacity also affects reported total global renewable power capacity relative to previous editions of the GSR and, thus, such data should not be compared directly with statistics in previous editions.(Note, however, that historical capacity data in the Renewable Energy Indicators Table on page 15 account for this change.) For future editions of the GSR, ongoing efforts are being made to further improve data.

Moreover, starting with the 2012 edition, the GSR has attempted to report hydropower generating capacity without including pure pumped storage capacity (the capacity used solely for shifting water between reservoirs for storage purposes). The distinction is made because pumped storage is not an energy supply source but rather a means of energy storage. It involves conversion losses and is potentially fed by all forms of electricity, renewable and nonrenewable. However, some conventional hydropower facilities do have pumping capability that is not separate from, or additional to, their normal generating capability. It is the aim of the GSR to distinguish and separate only the pure (or incremental) pumped storage component.(As noted in Sidebar 3 of GSR 2013, pumped storage can play an important role as balancing power in a grid system, particularly where a large share of variable renewable resources appears in the generation mix.)

This method of accounting is accepted practice by the industry. The International Hydropower Association is workingtotrackand report pure pumped storage numbers separately. In addition, several countries report data for pumped storage separately from data for conventional hydropower and other renewables.

6. SOLAR THERMAL HEAT DATA

Starting with this edition, the GSR includes all solar thermal collectors that use water as the heat-transfer medium (or heat carrier) in global capacity data and ranking of top 12 countries. Previous GSRs focussed primarily on glazed water collectors (both flat plate and evacuated tube); this edition also includes unglazed water collectors, which are used predominantly for swimming pool heating, in data throughout. This change affects reported global capacity data, as well as the rankings of top countries, relative to previous GSR editions.

Most countries that report data for solar water collectors gather information on glazed collectors only. Furthermore, glazed water collectors represent more than 90% of cumulative globa nstalled solar thermal capacity, and more than 95% of newly nstalled capacity. Thus, past GSRs focussed primarily on glazed water collectors to avoid mixing countries that have detailed data across all collectors with those that do not. However, because most of the largest markets for unglazed water collectors now gather data on this collector type, and data are improving elsewhere, unglazed collectors are covered more fully starting with GSR 2014.

Note that data for solar air collectors (solar thermal collectors that use air as the heat carrier) are far more uncertain, and these collector types play a minor role in the market overall. Solar thermal air collectors are included where specified.

Concentrating solar thermal systems used for industrial processes, or to drive double- or triple-stage absorption chillers, are included in the section Solar Thermal Heating and Cooling. These systems—including parabolic trough, dish, and Fresnel collectors—are smaller than their concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) relatives, and are adapted to provide high-temperature heat (typically 120-250 °C, and up to 400 °C) that is not used to generate electricity.

7. OTHER

Editorial content of this report closed by 17 May 2014 for technology data, and by 1 May for other content.

All exchange rates in this report are as of 31 December 2013, and are calculated using the OANDA currency converter (http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/).