World adds 161 GW of renewables in 2016, IRENA says

Wind and solar together. Author: Gerry Machen.

March 30 (Renewables Now) - The cumulative renewables capacity around the world has jumped in 2016 by 161 GW, or 8.7%, to 2,006 GW, according to a new report.

Statistics show that Asia accounted for 58% of new renewables in the year, reaching a total of 812 GW, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said. The region grew by 13.1% year-on-year when it comes to renewables capacity.

At the same time, Africa added twice as much renewables in 2016 when compared to 2015, with 4.1 GW of new installations.


For the first time since 2013, solar growth outpaced wind growth. Solar grew by a record 71 GW. Again, Asia was the largest solar market reaching 139 GW, up by 50 GW. China accounted for 34 GW of the new capacity.

The US, in the meantime, added 11 GW. It was followed by Japan, which installed 8 GW of solar and India with 4 GW.

All of Europe deployed 5 GW to reach 104 GW of solar power generating capacity. Most of the new plants were in Germany and the UK.


There was 51 GW of new wind power capacity installed last year, with China accounting for 19 GW. The US added 9 GW, while Germany and India installed 5 GW and 4 GW, respectively. Brazil, meanwhile, deployed 2 GW in 2016.


Bioenergy had its best ever year in 2016 when it comes to new capacity, as the world added 9 GW. Most of that was installed in Asia (5.9 GW), which now has 32% of the global bioenergy capacity and is getting closer to Europe’s 34% share. Europe and South America added 1.3 GW and 0.9 GW in 2016, respectively.


In 2016, Brazil and China added 14.6 GW of hydropower capacity together. Canada, Ecuador, Ethiopia and India installed more than 1 GW each. Overall, the global hydropower capacity rose by 30 GW.


The worldwide geothermal energy capacity increased by 780 MW in 2016, with Kenya accounting for 485 MW of that. Turkey, Indonesia and Italy also added some capacity.


About 2.8 GW of the total renewables installed in 2016 refers to off-grid plants. Solar power accounted for 40% of the off-grid installations, while hydropower held a 10% share and most of the rest came from bioenergy.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin commented that additional investments are needed in order to make a decisive step towards decarbonising the energy sector and meeting climate goals. “This new data is an encouraging sign that though there is much yet to do, we are on the right path,” Amin added.

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