Annual commissioned renewable energy capacity. Source: Rystad Energy’s RenewableCube.
The world has added 227 GW of new renewable energy capacity in 2021 for a 4.7% annual rise and is expected to hit 270 GW next year thanks to growth in solar and hydrogen, according to research by Rystad Energy.
The independent energy research and business intelligence firm says that in 2021 increases have been recorded in installed utility solar photovoltaic (PV), residential solar PV, offshore wind, battery and other forms of energy storage, but not in onshore wind, mainly due to the winding down of Chinese subsidies in the sector. Onshore wind deployment around the world is estimated to drop by about 20 GW on the year to around 85 GW in 2021 and by a further 15 GW in 2022. In 2023, this negative trend is likely to be reversed because of soaring demand for renewables.
Meanwhile, this year was particularly beneficial for residential solar PV, which has managed to surpass new commercial and industrial (C&I) in terms of annual capacity additions for the first time. Residential solar PV capacity installations have risen to 25.2 GW in 2021 from 18.9 GW in 2020. C&I solar additions decreased to 19.9 GW from 20.6 GW.
While new utility solar installations increased by 15%, the year could have been more impressive for this segment if not for the deferral or delay of 20 GW of projects, Rystad Energy says, noting that up to a further 50 GW could be postponed or cancelled in 2022 due to an expected increase in module prices.
The research firm also pays attention to electrolyser-based hydrogen production as they come hand in hand with new solar PV and wind additions. In the first 11 months of 2021, developers around the world have announced 245 GW of green hydrogen projects, which is six times the levels seen in 2020. Most of that comes from localised clusters such as 30 GW in Mauritania and 45 GW in Kazakhstan.
As per actual electrolyser additions in 2021, they rose to 0.8 GW from 0.04 GW in 2020.