Renewable energy additions in 2020 topped the previous year’s expansion by almost 50 percent, as technology improved and costs continued to drop.
The world added 260 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity last year, mostly in the form of wind and solar, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Renewables accounted for the net majority of all generation added last year, as fossil fuel generation was decommissioned in Europe and the United States last year.
Fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW from 64 GW in 2019, according to the agency.
“Despite the difficult period, as we predicted, 2020 marks the start of the decade of renewables,” IREA Director-General Francesco La Camera said. “Costs are falling, clean tech markets are growing and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear.”
Wind generation added 111 GW of new installations, while solar added 127 GW. China led the way accounting for 72 GW installations in wind and 49 GW in solar.
Those additions will be quite welcome as the Asian economic powerhouse remains the world’s largest coal consumer. The United States installed 14 GW of wind and 15 GW of solar, even as the pandemic raged.
The world has the existing technologies and fuel sources – renewable energy, green hydrogen and modern biofuels – to reach carbon goals and limit climate change to 1.5 degrees by 2050, according to the agency. Yet to do so it will need to increase investment above current gains.