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Renewables account for almost three quarters of new generating capacity in 2019

Published April 16, 2020

Renewables account for almost three quarters of new generating capacity in 2019

New renewable power accounted for 72 percent 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 shows the renewables sector grew by 7.6 percent, adding 176 GW of generating capacity globally in 2019. This was only slightly lower than the 179 GW added in 2018. The renewable share of all global power capacity now stands at 34.7 percent, up from 33.3 percent at the end of 2018. 

Total renewable power growth outpaced fossil fuel growth by a factor of 2.6, continuing the dominant trend set in 2012. Solar and wind contributed 90 percent of total renewable capacity added in 2019. Asia dominated growth, accounting for 54 percent of total additions.  

“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “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.” 

Renewables accounted for at least 70 percent of total capacity expansion in almost all regions in 2019. In Africa and the Middle East, renewables represented 52 percent and 26 percent of net additions respectively.  

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 98 GW in 2019, 60 percent of which was in Asia. Wind energy expanded by close to 60 GW, led by growth in China (26 GW), and the United States (9 GW). The two technologies now generate 623 GW and 586 GW, respectively – close to half of global renewable capacity. Hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal, and marine energy displayed modest year-on-year expansion of 12 GW, 6 GW, 700 MW, and 500 MW, 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 2 GW of renewable capacity in 2019, half of the 4 GW it installed in 2018. 

“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,” continued La Camera. “At this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies. In what must be the decade of action, enabling policies are needed to increase investments and accelerate renewables adoption.”