Global renewable energy generating capacity surged 8.3% in 2015, the highest annual growth rate on record, in spite of crashing oil and gas prices, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported last week.
Total capacity grew to 1,985 gigawatts, according to IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2016. Over the last five years, capacity has grown by about one-third.
“Falling costs for renewable energy technologies, and a host of economic, social, and environmental drivers favour renewables over conventional power sources,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “This impressive growth, coupled with a record $286 billion invested in renewables in 2015, sends a strong signal to investors and policy-makers that renewable energy is now the preferred option for new power generation capacity around the world.”
IRENA reports that:
- Global wind capacity grew 17%, to 63 GW, with the cost of onshore turbines falling up to 45% since 2010.
- Solar capacity increased 37%, to 47 GW, thanks to an 80% cost reduction.
- Hydropower capacity increased 3%, to 35 GW.
- Bioenergy and geothermal energy capacity each grew 5%.
Renewable capacity increased 14.5% in Central America and the Caribbean, 12.4% in Asia, 6.3% in North America, and 5.2% in Europe. Asia accounted for 58% of all new renewable capacity installed world-wide.
“The significant growth rates for renewable generation capacity in developing economies are a testament to the strong business case for renewable energy,” Amin said. “Renewables are not just a solution for industrialized countries, they are also powering economic growth in the fastest growing economies in the developing world.”