Global renewable generating capacity rises 10% in 2020

GLOBAL RENEWABLE generating capacity grew 10% last year to around 2,799 gigawatts (GW) despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

An IRENA official said in a statement that 2020 is the beginning of the “decade of renewables.”

“Renewables’ rising share of the total is partly attributable to net decommissioning of fossil fuel power generation in Europe, North America and for the first time across Eurasia… The 10.3% rise in installed capacity represents expansion that beats long-term trends of more modest growth year on year,” IRENA said in the statement issued Sunday. In 2019, global renewable generation capacity stood at about 2,538 GW.

According to IRENA data, renewable capacity in the Philippines increased by 0.74% to 6.81 GW last year.

“Despite the difficult period, as we predicted, 2020 marks the start of the decade of renewables,” IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera was quoted as saying.

“Costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear… Our 1.5 degree outlook shows significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals,” he added, referring to the Paris Agreement. The international treaty’s goal is to limit the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In its statement, IRENA said hydropower accounted for more than half of the world’s total renewable generation capacity at 1,211 GW last year, but solar and wind are “catching up fast.”

“The two variable sources of renewables dominated capacity expansion in 2020 with 127 GW and 111 GW of new installations for solar and wind respectively,” it said.

IRENA gathered its data from questionnaires, official statistics, industry association reports, other reports and news articles.

Meanwhile, total fossil fuel additions to the global generation capacity fell to 60 GW in 2020 from 64 GW previously. The organization said that this highlighted a “continued downward trend of fossil fuel expansion.”

On its website, IRENA said that it advocated the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of RE in pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity. — Angelica Y. Yang