The world added more than 260 GW of renewable energy capacity last year, exceeding expansion in 2019 by close to 50%, despite the economic slowdown that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that renewable energy’s share of all new generating capacity rose considerably for the second year in a row. More than 80% of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91% of new renewables. However, hydropower still accounts for the largest share of renewables in the total mix.
Renewables’ rising share of the total is partly attributable to net decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and for the first time across Eurasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation and Turkey). Total fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW in 2020 from 64 GW the previous year.
“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean and just future,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “The great reset offered a moment of reflection and chance to align our trajectory with the path to inclusive prosperity, and there are signs we are grasping it.
“Despite the difficult period, as we predicted, 2020 marks the start of the decade of renewables. Costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear. This trend is unstoppable, but as the review of our World Energy Transition Outlook highlights, there is a huge amount to be done. Our 1.5 degree outlook shows significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve