New data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reveal that solar and wind energy continued to dominate renewable capacity expansion, jointly accounting for 91% of all net renewable additions in 2020.
According to IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021, over 260 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity were added globally in 2020, exceeding expansion in 2019 by approximately 50%. The global renewable generation capacity amounted to 2 799 GW in 2020 and solar energy continued to lead capacity expansion, with an increase of 127 GW (+22%), followed closely by wind energy with 111 GW (+18%).
The surge in renewable capacity expansion in 2020 increased the share of renewables in total capacity expansion, which reached 82% in 2020 compared to a figure of 73% in 2019. The renewable share of total generation capacity also rose by two percentage points from 34.6% in 2019 to 36.6% in 2020.
China and the United States were the two outstanding growth markets from 2020. China, already the world’s largest market for renewables added 136 GW last year with the bulk coming from 72 GW of wind and 49 GW of solar.
Expansion in Asia was 78 GW in 2020 (compared to +55 GW in 2019), with major capacity increases in China (+49.4 GW) and Viet Nam (+11.6 GW). Japan also added over 5 GW and India and the Republic of Korea both expanded solar capacity by more than 4 GW.
The United States installed 29 GW of renewables in 2020, nearly 80 per cent more than in 2019, including 15 GW of solar and around 14 GW of wind. Germany and Australia both added over 4 GW and the Netherlands and Brazil added more than 3 GW.
Africa continued to expand steadily with an increase of 2.6 GW, slightly more than in 2019, while Oceania remained the fastest-growing region (+18.4%), although its share of global capacity is small and almost all expansion occurred in Australia.
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 highlighting a continued downward trend of fossil fuel expansion.
Source: Press release by IRENA.