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IRENA releases 2021 Renewable Capacity Statistics Report


According to a new report conducted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), global renewable energy capacity additions increased in 2020; thus, beating earlier estimates and all previous records despite the economic slowdown generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 report shows that the world added more than 260GW of renewable energy capacity in 2020.

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IRENA on renewables’ growth in 2020

This week, IRENA released its Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 report. Accordingly, the document shows that in 2020, the world added more than 260GW of renewable energy capacity. Therefore, this quantity accounts for about 50% of all renewable energy additions in 2019.

Moreover, the report shows that renewable energy additions are beating estimates and all previous records despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Besides, IRENA states that renewable energy’s share of all new generating capacity rose considerably for the second year in a row. Accordingly, more than 80% of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable. Particularly, with solar and wind accounting for 91% of new renewables.

In fact, this rise is partly attributable to the net decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation. Particularly, in Europe, North America, and for the first time across Eurasia. For instance, with projects in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation, and Turkey.

On the other hand, total fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW in 2020 from 64 GW the previous year. Hence, there is a continued downward trend of fossil fuel expansion, according to IRENA.

Reception and results by region

“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. In fact, 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. Thus, “the great reset offered a moment of reflection. Also, a 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,” continued Mr. La Camera. Moreover, “costs are falling, clean-tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear. Hence, this trend is unstoppable, but as the review of our World Energy Transition Outlook highlights, there is a huge amount to be done.”

Indeed, the 10.3% rise in installed capacity represents a significant expansion from previous years’ trends. For instance, at the end of 2020, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 2799 GW. In fact, hydropower still accounting for the largest share (1211 GW) but solar and wind are catching up fast.

In this regard, 127 GW and 111 GW of new installations were added for solar and wind, respectively.

Finally, IRENA notes that China and the US were the two outstanding growth markets from 2020. For instance, China, is already the world’s largest market for renewables. Accordingly, it added 136 GW last year (72 GW of wind and 49 GW of solar).

On the other hand, the US-installed 29 GW of renewables last year, nearly 80% more than in 2019 (15 GW of solar and14 GW of wind). Moreover, Africa continued to expand steadily with an increase of 2.6 GW. Remarkably, Oceania remained the fastest-growing region (+18.4%), IRENA concludes.

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