New figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have revealed that 2016 saw record breaking growth in renewable energy capacity and deployment. The Renewable Capacity Statistics 2017 report, released by the UN-backed clean energy agency today IRENA, reveals that 2016 was a monumental year for new renewable energy system installations.
More than 161GW of new clean energy capacity was added across the globe in the 12-month period, equating to an 8.7% year-or-year growth.
The world’s renewable generation capacity surged past the 2,000GW threshold last year, largely driven by strong solar energy growth. In fact, 2016 marked the first time since 2013 that solar growth outpaced that of wind energy. And the renewables revolution shows no sign of slowing down.
Key findings of the report are:
1) Global renewables capacity has doubled in less than a decade
In 2007, global renewable generation capacity sat at just under 1000GW. Butm as the threats of global warming became more severe and renewables entered the market aided by financial support, the uptake has been accelerated. The world crossed the 2000GW threshold for the first time in 2016, adding 161GW – a slight increase on 2015’s 155GW of new capacity.
2) The tide refuses to change on Hydro energy’s domination
Hydropower continues to account for more than half of the global renewable capacity, jumping from 1,207MW in 2015 to 1,242MW in 2016. It’s worth noting that this includes pumped storage and mixed plants capacity, which IRENA doesn’t consider a source of renewable generation due to the fuel that can be used to power them. Around half of new hydro capacity was installed in Brazil and China (14.6 GW in total).
3) Europe’s continental solar drift allows Asia’s powerhouses to catch-up
Europe, excluding Eurasia nations such as Turkey, crossed the 100GW threshold for solar capacity for the first time in 2016, adding more than 5GW last year. However, the continent was dwarfed by both Japan and China – the latter of which added a staggering 34GW of solar capacity last year, bringing total capacity to 77GW. Japan added 8GW, while India almost match Europe’s new capacity additions, recording a 4.3GW increase. “We are witnessing an energy transformation taking hold around the world, and this is reflected in another year of record breaking additions in new renewable energy capacity,” IRENA’s director-general Adnan Z. Amin said.
“This growth in deployment emphasises the increasingly strong business case for renewables which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fuelling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment.”