Sustainability Energy

During pandemic, the world added a record amount of new renewable energy capacity

Modern grain style vector illustration solar panels, wind turbines, battery storage, high voltage electricity power transmission grid and clean city

Story at a glance:

  • Renewables went up 50 percent in one year.
  • Eighty percent of new electricity was added from 2020.
  • This trend is the pathway to net-zero emission by 2050, an international energy agency director says.

 

The world’s renewable energy capacity is now at 260 gigawatts (GW), a new record.

New renewable energy was 50 percent between 2019 and 2020. And in 2021, Renewable Capacity Statistics said more than 80 percent of all new electricity capacity added from 2020 was renewable, including solar and wind, which makes up 91 percent of new renewables, Reuters reports.

The increase of new electricity capacity is due to countries withdrawing their support for fossil fuel in significant regions. There was a 60 GW decline in fossil fuel additions, which was lower than the previous 64 GW in Europe, North America, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Turkey.


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“Costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear,” said Francesco La Camera, general director of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “This trend is unstoppable, but … there is a huge amount to be done.” 

According to the International Energy Agency and other sources, the share of renewables in energy generation worldwide now stands at nearly 30 percent.

The surge in renewable energy is still going strong during the pandemic, a trend the IRENA directors call “unstoppable.” La Camera said the 2020s is a critical decade for new energy investments and that the international community must use this positive trend as inspiration to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Collectively, renewable generation capacity, including hydropower, generated 2,799 GW globally at the end of 2020.


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