Record 260GW of renewable energy capacity added in 2020: IRENA

New data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has found that over 260GW of new renewable energy capacity was installed around the world last year, despite the economic impacts of COVID-19.

IRENA’s ‘Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021’ report found that new green energy capacity in 2020 exceeded the expansion figure in 2019 by close to 50%, with IRENA director-general Francesco Camera hailing the start of the ‘decade of renewables’.

“Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean and just future,” he said.

“The great reset offered a moment of reflection and chance to align our trajectory with the path to inclusive prosperity, and there are signs we are grasping it.”

More than 80% of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91% of new clean power. Of this, new solar installations totalled 127GW, while wind power stood at 111GW.

China led the way with 136GW of capacity growth last year, while the US installed 29GW of renewables, however this was nearly 80% more than in 2019.

IRENA added that renewables’ rising share of the total is partly attributable to net decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and across Eurasia. Total fossil fuel additions fell to 60GW in 2020 from 64GW in 2019.

At the end of 2020, global renewable generation capacity equated to 2,799GW, with hydropower accounting for the most with 1,211GW.