A record amount of new renewable energy capacity was achieved in 2020 despite economic slowdown that resulted from the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Global renewable energy capacity grew by more than 260 gigawatts (GW) last year, beating previous record by nearly 50 percent, as shown in IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021.
Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 report by @IRENA shows how #renewableenergy performed in 2020 – the most challenging of years. Despite #COVID19, #renewables hit records globally, and notably in countries such as #US & #China. Learn more: https://t.co/ZVgB7L9ueM pic.twitter.com/zFDlfoRRcP
— IRENA (@IRENA) April 5, 2021
In a second consecutive year, clean energy’s share of all new generating capacity shows a substantial increase, with renewables accounting for over 80 percent of all new electricity capacity added in 2020. In contrast, total fossil additions fell by more than 6 percent last year from 64 GW of new electricity in 2019 to 60 GW in 2020.
“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,” says IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera in a statement.
“The great reset,” as La Camera calls the coronavirus-driven economic slowdown, “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.”
The growth of renewables in 2020 tells a remarkable story of resilience & hope. Despite the uncertainties, #renewableenergy emerged as a source of optimism for a better, more equitable, clean & just future.
— Francesco La Camera (@flacamera) April 5, 2021
With 2020 as “the start of the decade of renewables,” La Camera says “costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing, and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear.”
It is notable that solar and wind power contributed 127GW and 111 GW of new installations, respectively, with hydropower responsible for 43 percent of the world’s total renewable energy generation capacity, bringing the total to 91 percent of growth in renewables in 2020.
“An unstoppable trend” is how La Camera describes the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources. “There is a huge amount to be done,” he says.
The increasing momentum in favor of clean energy is a good start, however, in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC, “significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals” of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as outlined in IRENA’s World Energy Transition Outlook.
La Camera echoes a recent observation by Fatih Bitrol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, who earlier said that the world’s biggest economies have pledged to achieve net zero GHG emissions by mid-century, yet few have implemented the policies necessary to realize that objective.
La Camera further points out, “in this critical decade of action, the international community must look to this trend as a source of inspiration to go further.”
IRENA is the lead intergovernmental agency for the global energy transformation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. With 163 Members (162 States and the European Union) and 21 additional countries in the accession process and actively engaged, IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity. (JSM/JuanManila)
Featured image: IRENA Headquarters in Abu Dhabi