The renewable energy sector added 176 GW of generating capacity globally in 2019, marginally lower than the 179 GW added in 2018, but new renewable power accounted for 72 per cent of all power expansion last year, according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).
Irena's annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020 show that renewables expanded by 7.6 per cent last year, with Asia dominating growth and accounting for 54 per cent of total additions. While the expansion of renewables slowed down last year, total renewable power growth outpaced fossil fuel growth by a factor of 2.6, continuing the dominance of renewables in power expansion first established in 2012. Solar and wind contributed 90 per cent of total renewable capacity added in 2019, a Wam news agency report quoting the statistics said.
"Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of the new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth," said Irena Director-General, Francesco La Camera, adding: "With renewable additions providing the majority of new capacity last year, it is clear that many countries and regions recognise the degree to which the energy transition can deliver positive outcomes.
"While the trajectory is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation – both of which offer significant economic benefits," La Camera added.
Renewables accounted for at least 70 per cent of total capacity expansion in almost all regions in 2019, other than Africa and the Middle East, where they represented 52 per cent and 26 per cent of net additions, respectively. The additions took the renewable share of all global power capacity to 34.7 per cent, up from 33.3 per cent at the end of 2018. Non-renewable capacity expansion globally followed long-term trends in 2019, with net growth in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and net decommissioning in Europe and North America.
Solar added 98GW in 2019, 60 percent of which was in Asia. Wind energy expanded by close to 60GW, led by growth in China (26GW) and the United States (9GW). The two technologies now generate 623GW and 586GW, respectively, close to half of global renewable capacity. Hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and marine energy displayed a modest year-on-year expansion of 12GW, 6GW, 700MW and 500MW, respectively.
Asia was responsible for over half of new installations despite expanding at a slightly slower pace than in 2018. Growth in Europe and North America increased year on year. Africa added 2GW of renewable capacity in 2019, half of the 4GW it installed in 2018, the report said.