Masdar News

Renewable energy capacity increased the most this century in 2020, says IEA

25 May 2021
Insights, Reports

Renewable energy capacity rose 45 percent last year – the biggest increase this century, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest market update.

The largest increase year-on-year since 1999 saw energy sources such as wind and solar contributing to the addition of 280 gigawatts (GW) of renewable electricity globally, equivalent to the total installed capacity of the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The rapid growth of the sector was largely due to increases in installed capacity in Europe and the United States (US), offsetting a slowdown in China, the IEA said.

“Wind and solar power are giving us more reasons to be optimistic about our climate goals as they break record after record. Last year, the increase in renewable capacity accounted for 90 percent of the entire global power sector’s expansion,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. 

The report also predicts that solar photovoltaic (PV) installations will continue to grow, with an expected capacity of over 160 GW by 2022, up from 108 GW in 2019. Growth in wind capacity is expected to slow in 2021 and 2022, following a near 50 percent increase in 2020 to 114 GW.  

Strong growth in renewables is expected in the European, US, Indian and Latin American markets over the next few years, bolstered by continuing price decreases for solar PV and wind, and increasing government support. 

 “Governments need to build on this promising momentum through policies that encourage greater investment in solar and wind, in the additional grid infrastructure they will require, and in other key renewable technologies such as hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal. A massive expansion of clean electricity is essential to giving the world a chance of achieving its net zero goals,’’ added Birol.