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The renewable energy sector added 176GW of energy capacity globally in 2019, marginally lower than the (revised) 179GW added in 2018, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

However, new renewable energy accounted for 72% of all power expansion last year.

Renewables expanded by 7.6% last year with Asia accounting for 54% of total additions.

Although the expansion of renewables slowed last year, clean energy resources outpaced fossil fuel growth by a factor of 2.6.

Solar and wind contributed 90% of total renewable capacity added in 2019.

Other key Renewable Capacity Statistics 2020 study findings include: 

  • Renewables accounted for at least 70% of total capacity expansion in almost all regions in 2019, other than in Africa (2GW) and the Middle East, where they represented 52% and 26% of net additions respectively.
  • Solar added 98GW in 2019, 60% of which was in Asia. Wind energy expanded by close to 60GW led by growth in China (26GW) and the United States (9GW). Solar and wind now generate close to half of global renewable capacity.
  • Hydropower, bioenergy, geothermal and marine energy displayed modest year on year expansion of 12GW, 6GW, 700MW and 500MW respectively.
  • Off-grid electricity: Off-grid capacity grew by 160MW (+2%) to reach 8.6GW in 2019. In 2019, off-grid solar PV increased by 112MW and hydropower grew by 31MW, compared to growth of only 17MW for bioenergy.

IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera, said: “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.

“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.

“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.”