World to add record renewables in 2021 despite supply chain woes

Solar panels. Featured Image: pornvit_v/

December 2 (Renewables Now) - Global renewable power capacity additions in 2021 are expected to reach an all-time high of 290 GW and will grow further over the coming next few years, according to a new report.

In its latest renewables market report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that the “fresh” record in 2021 will set the beginning of an upward trend in capacity additions and by 2026, the world’s renewable power capacity is forecast to rise over 60% from 2020 levels to over 4,800 GW. It anticipates capacity additions in 2021-2026 to be 50% higher than in the 2015-2020 period, with renewables accounting for close to 95% of the overall increase in the global power capacity through 2026.

According to IEA, the expansion of renewables will happen in spite of the rising commodity and transport prices. Nevertheless, if commodity prices keep their high level through end-2022, the cost of wind investments would go back up to 2015 levels, while the achieved cost reductions for solar would be erased.

“The high commodity and energy prices we are seeing today pose new challenges for the renewable industry, but elevated fossil fuel prices also make renewables even more competitive,” said IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol.

China is set to be the main driver of renewable capacity growth in the coming years, with its total wind and solar power capacity expected to reach 1,200 GW in 2026, ahead of the 2030 target. India, Europe and the US will also have a major role in fuelling the global renewables acceleration and, together with China, are seen to account for 80% of renewable capacity expansion worldwide.

Split by technology, renewables capacity additions in 2021 will be largely helped by the solar photovoltaics (PV) industry. With an expected 17% increase, solar additions are set to reach almost 160 GW. Meanwhile, the new capacity from onshore wind turbines will be almost 25% higher than in 2015-20220, while total offshore wind capacity is forecast to more than triple by 2026.

IEA expects that demand for biofuels will experience strong growth through 2026. Asia is seen to be responsible for close to 30% of the world’s new production, while India is anticipated to become the third-largest market for ethanol globally, surpassing the US and Brazil.

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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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