Global renewable energy capacity surged to new heights in 2015, recording the largest annual growth rate ever according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
IRENA’s “Renewable Capacity Statistics 2016” shows generation capacity from renewables grew by 152 GW worldwide – a rate of 8.3 percent – during 2015, with the majority of growth coming from new installations of wind and solar power.
The report finds that as of the end of 2015, a remarkable 1,985 GW of renewable capacity is installed globally.
“Renewable energy deployment continues to surge in markets around the globe, even in an era of low oil and gas prices. Falling costs for renewable energy technologies, and a host of economic, social and environmental drivers are favouring renewables over conventional power sources,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
Sustained declines in the price of installing wind and solar energy contributed to a record year for both technologies. Wind capacity grew by 63 GW last year – 17 percent – thanks in part to a drop of 45 percent in the cost of onshore wind turbines since 2010. The price of solar PV has fallen by around 80 percent in the same period, helping solar power in 2015 add a record 47 GW of capacity – an increase of 26 percent.
Overall renewable capacity has increased by around one-third in the past five years, according to the report, with solar and wind the major contributors.
“This impressive growth, coupled with a record $286 billion invested in renewables in 2015, sends a strong signal to investors and policymakers that renewable energy is now the preferred option for new power generation capacity around the world,” Mr Amin said.
As we reported late last month, developing nations recorded the fastest growth in renewable capacity during 2015, with Central America and the Caribbean expanding at a rate of 14.5 percent.
An explosion of solar power installations in Asia saw China and Japan add 15 and 10 GW of new capacity respectively, an increase of 48 percent. And for the first time, North America overtook Europe in new solar capacity, adding 8 GW to Europe’s 7.6 GW.
Roughly 90 percent of new wind energy (57 GW) was installed in China, India, Europe and North America, but the report notes wind is on the rise in other regions, such as South America, where capacity increased by 3.1 GW (40 percent) in 2015.
“The significant growth rates for renewable generation capacity in developing economies are a testament to the strong business case for renewable energy,” said Mr. Amin. “Renewables are not just a solution for industrialized countries, they are also powering economic growth in the fastest growing economies in the developing world.”
Renewable Capacity Statistics 2016 can be viewed in full here (PDF).