- IRENA’s new report claims more than 260 new renewable energy capacity was added globally in 2020
- It comprised 127 GW of solar, and 111 GW of wind power, taking their cumulative to 714 GW and 733 GW, respectively
- Off-grid electricity capacity scaled up to 10.6 GW, comprising 4.3 GW of solar with the addition of 365 MW in 2020
With the addition of over 260 GW of new renewable energy capacity in 2020 globally— an annual increase of around 50%—which came despite the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, the cumulative installed renewable energy capacity of the world went up to a total of 2,799 GW, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
In its latest report titled Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021, IRENA specified that more than 80% of all new electricity capacity in 2020 came from renewables with solar and wind accounting for 91% of new renewables. Solar power contributed 127 GW, and wind another 111 GW. Till the end of 2020, IRENA said installed solar power capacity of the world rose up to 714 GW, reaching closer to wind energy’s cumulative of 733 GW.
Most solar capacity was added in Asia with 78 GW out of 127 GW. China added the largest volume, 49 GW (see China Installed 48.2 GW Solar PV Capacity In 2020). It was followed by the US with 15 GW installed and Vietnam contributing 11 GW. While Japan added more than 5 GW in 2020, both India and South Korea expanded annually by more than 4 GW.
The report also provides off-grid electricity capacity additions that have reached 10.6 GW, with the addition of 365 MW in 2020. For solar, the off-grid capacity expanded to 4.3 GW thanks to 250 MW installed last year.
In comparison, fossil fuel additions declined to 60 GW in 2020, compared to 64 GW in the previous year.
Hailing the period as the start of the ‘decade of renewables’, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera pointed out that while these renewable energy numbers are ‘remarkable’, there is a lot that still needs to be done. “Our 1.5°C scenario outlook shows significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals. In this critical decade of action, the international community must look to this trend as a source of inspiration to go further,” added Camera.
The report from IRENA is available for free download on its website.
In March 2021, IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook report envisioned global solar PV capacity to exceed 14,000 GW by 2050 in a 1.5°C scenario (see IRENA Expects 14,000 Solar PV By 2050 In New Report).