Renewable power accounted for almost three quarters, 72 per cent, of global power expansion last year, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Solar and wind contributed 90 per cent of the renewable capacity added in 2019.
The renewable energy sector added 176 GW of generating capacity globally last year, with solar expanding by 98 GW, and wind adding almost 60 GW, according to IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020. In total, renewables expanded 7.6 per cent in 2019, with renewable power growth outpacing fossil fuels by a factor of 2.6 in terms of capacity, according to IRENA’s data.
“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth,” IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said in a release. “With renewables additions providing the majority of new capacity last year, it is clear that many countries and regions recognise the degree to which the energy transition can deliver positive outcomes."
Renewables accounted for 34.7 per cent of total global power capacity last year, up from 33.3 per cent at the end of 2018, IRENA said. Solar and wind now amount to 623 GW and 586 GW respectively, according to IRENA data, almost half of the global renewables capacity of 2.537 TW. While hydropower still accounts for 47 per cent of total capacity, only 12 GW was added last year, an “unusually low” level, according to IRENA, with a number of large projects missing completion deadlines.
Asia dominated growth last year, accounting for 54 per cent of renewables additions, taking its total renewables capacity to 1.12 TW, 44 per cent of the global total. The Middle East increased renewable capacity by 12.6 per cent last year, the second-fastest rate of growth behind the Oceania region. The United Arab Emirates added more than 1 GW of solar capacity, the most in the Middle East.
“This report from IRENA demonstrates that the renewable energy sector is increasingly dominating the global power conversation, as countries look to boost their clean energy share,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer, Masdar. “Sustainable technology can offer economic benefits, while mitigating the impact of climate change. As the world faces unprecedented challenges, it is vital that we accelerate sustainable development, and continue to promote solutions that protect our planet, our people and our prosperity.”
Headquartered in Masdar City, IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as a platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.