New data published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency shows that global renewable energy generation capacity increased by 161 gigawatts in 2016, a record year for new capacity additions and proof positive of the unstoppable nature of the low-carbon energy transition.
According to the Renewable Capacity Statistics 2017 (PDF) published today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global cumulative renewable generation capacity reached 2,006 gigawatts (GW). 2016 capacity grew by 8.7%, according to IRENA’s latest data, with a record 71 GW of new solar energy leading the global capacity additions — the first time since 2013 that solar energy outpaced wind energy capacity additions. It was still a strong year for wind, with 51 GW of new capacity, followed by hydropower with 30 GW, and bioenergy with 9 GW.
“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,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
“This growth in deployment emphasizes the increasingly strong business case for renewables which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment. But accelerating this momentum will require additional investment in order to move decisively towards decarbonising the energy sector and meet climate objectives. This new data is an encouraging sign that though there is much yet to do, we are on the right path.”
World renewable energy capacity has increased impressively since 2007, when it was only 989,213 megawatts (MW), growing to 2,006,202 MW in 2016. The report details the overall figures for each renewable energy technology, as well as from each continent and country. Asia accounted for 58% of all new renewable energy capacity additions in 2016, increasing it’s cumulative capacity to 812 GW, or around 41% of the world’s total capacity. Asia also came out as the fastest growing region, with a 13.1% increase in renewable energy capacity.
Meanwhile, Africa doubled its 2015 installation figures, installing 4.1 GW, bringing it up to a total of 38 GW.