Renewables bring over 80% of world's new power capacity in 2020 - IRENA

Solar panels. Featured Image: foxbat/

April 6 (Renewables Now) - The world deployed over 260 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2020, reaching an all-time high volume regardless of the pandemic challenges, shows new data by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The new capacity additions are almost 50% higher than those in the previous year, exceeding estimates and marking the second year in which renewable energy’s share in total new power generation capacity is on the rise.

IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 reveal that more than 80% of the overall capacity installs in 2020 came from renewable energy sources, of which wind and solar were responsible for 91%. The uptake in renewables' share came partly due to the net decommissioning of fossil fuel power plants and the decreased new capacity additions in that segment.

The solar industry saw the commissioning of 127 GW of new plants, while 111 GW of capacity was brought online in the wind segment.

Geographically speaking, China was the world’s top player in the renewables field with 136 GW of new deployments in 2020, of which 72 GW of wind and 49 GW of solar, while the US came second with 29 GW of capacity going online. Africa saw an annual expansion of 2.6 GW.

The table contains details by technology and top markets.

Technology Top markets
Solar Asia (78 GW), China (49 GW), US (15 GW), Vietnam (11GW), Japan, India, South Korea
Wind China (72 GW), US (14 GW)
Hydro China (12 GW), Turkey (2.5 GW)
Bioenergy China (2 GW), Europe (1.2 GW)
Geothermal Turkey (99 MW)

“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. He highlighted that the falling costs and the expansion of clean tech markets are among the major drivers for the growth of renewables.

The world’s global installed renewable energy generation capacity at end-2020 stood at 2,799 GW.

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Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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