Renewable energy accounted for almost 75 percent of all new electricity generation capacity built worldwide in 2019 - an all-time record.
Wind, solar, and other green energy technologies now make up over a third of global electricity according to new data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).
There were more fossil fuel plants decommissioned than built in 2019 across the US and Europe, however the number of gas and coal plants increased in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Only 26% of the new electricity generation capacity built last year in the Middle East was renewable.
Irena says that around $3tn was invested in renewable energies over the last ten years, but that annual investments need to double by 2030 if we are to get on top of the climate crisis.
“While the trajectory is positive, more is required to put global energy on a path with sustainable development and climate mitigation,” said the director general of Irena, Francesco La Camera. “At this challenging time, we are reminded of the importance of building resilience into our economies”.
La Camera says that governments must support greener technologies, instead of fossil fuels, with the large spending planned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In responding to today’s crisis, governments may be tempted to focus on short-term solutions,” La Camera said. “Yet distinctions between short-, medium- and long-term challenges may be deceptive. The pandemic shows that delayed action brings significant economic consequences”.
The global oil market has experienced decreased demand due to the coronavirus lockdowns and the price war between the US, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
“Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility,” says La Camera. For two-thirds of the world, wind and solar power are now the cheapest form of electricity.
The new data from Irena shows that even though the increase in renewable energy capacity dropped slightly from 179GW to 176GW in 2019, fossil fuel capacity also fell. The UK saw a 6.1% rise in total green energy installed, making it 11th place globally for installed renewables.
New solar power accounts for 55% of the new electricity capacity. Most of the new solar power was installed in Asia, specifically in China, India, South Korea, Vietnam and Japan. Outside of Asia, large increases in solar capacity were also seen in Spain, Germany, and Ukraine, as well as the US and Australia.
Wind power accounts for 34% of the total new capacity, almost half of which was installed in China. Global wind power capacity is slightly ahead of solar capacity, of which 95% comes from onshore power plants.
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