Last year, the global renewable energy capacity grew by 10.3 percent to 2,799 gigawatts (GW). Over 260 GW of clean energy capacity was added, exceeding expansion in 2019 by 50 percent, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
In 2020, solar energy made up more than 48 percent of additions, accounting for 127 GW. Overall the solar capacity grew 22 percent year-on-year, while wind power capacity increased only 18 percent to 111 GW. Together, wind and solar accounted for a total of 91 percent of renewable additions, as per the IRENA report.
“Along with the renewed growth of hydropower, this exceptional growth in wind and solar led to the highest annual increase in renewable generating capacity ever seen,” the Abu Dhabi-based agency stated in its Renewable Capacity Highlights report.
In spite of the pandemic crisis, the renewables capacity grew last year as governments around the world set targets to reduce carbon emissions.
“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,” Francesco La Camera, director general at IRENA, said.
The increasing share of renewables is also backed by the decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and nations including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey. Total fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW last year from 64 GW in 2019, the report said.
In 2020, the hydropower capacity grew 2 percent to 20 GW, while bioenergy capacity also witnessed a rise of 2 percent to 2 gigawatts. Geothermal energy, which uses the earth’s heat to generate power, contributed to 164 megawatts of capacity last year.