Renewables contribute record 81% to capacity growth in 2021

Solar modules in China. Featured Image: zhu difeng/

April 13 (Renewables Now) - The world added almost 257 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2021, accounting for a record 81% of the total power capacity expansion last year, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said on Monday.

The global renewable generation capacity increased 9.1% during 2021, reaching 3,064 GW, of which 1,230 GW was hydropower.

Growth was led by solar, which registered a record 133 GW of additions and a 19% increase in the cumulative capacity. Solar has now outgrown wind energy capacity, which expanded by 93 GW, including 21 GW offshore. Wind's growth slowed down compared to the 111 GW added in the previous year.

IRENA said renewables continued to gain momentum in spite of the global uncertainties but this is not enough. Its director-general Francesco La Camera said that “despite the encouraging global trend, our new World Energy Transitions Outlook shows that the energy transition is far from being fast or widespread enough to avert the dire consequences of climate change.”

“Our current energy crisis also adds to the evidence that the world can no longer rely on fossil fuels to meet its energy demand,” La Camera added.

Looking at other technologies, bioenergy capacity showed a net expansion of 10.3 GW in 2021 compared to 9.1 GW in 2020, while geothermal energy had a strong year with 1.6 GW of additions. Off-grid electricity capacity increased by 466 MW to hit 11.2 GW.

In terms of geography, Asia installed 60% of the new capacity in 2021, with China accounting for 121 GW. Europe added 39 GW and North America 38 GW.

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Browse all articles from Plamena Tisheva

Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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