IRENA Says As Wind And Solar Come Online, Renewables Break Records In 2016

The International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, said on Thursday that last year saw global renewable energy generation capacity increase by 161 gigawatts (GW).

The planet’s renewable energy capacity had hit an estimated 2,006 GW, by the end of 2016, IRENA said.

With 71 GW of new solar energy leading the way, its data showed renewable energy capacity grew by 8.7 percent, it added. hydropower increased by 30 GW, bioenergy grew by 9 GW and wind energy grew by 51 GW.

“We are witnessing an energy transformation taking hold around the world, and this is reflected in another year of record breaking additions in new renewable energy capacity,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said in a statement.

“This growth in deployment emphasizes the increasingly strong business case for renewables which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment. But accelerating this momentum will require additional investment in order to move decisively towards decarbonising the energy sector and meet climate objectives. This new data is an encouraging sign that though there is much yet to do, we are on the right path,” he added.

He went on to say that “in order to move decisively towards decarbonising the energy sector and meet climate objectives,” accelerating this momentum would need extra investment.

Down one per cent compared to 2015, renewable electricity generation in the UK in 2016 was 82.8 terawatt hours, showed the energy statistics released by the U.K. government on the same day as IRENA’s announcement.

In addition, noting a decrease of 0.2 percentage points compared to the previous year, the government said that renewables’ share of electricity generation fell to 24.4 percent in 2016.

With a record 71 GW of new solar energy leading the growth, IRENA’s new data shows that last year’s additions grew the world’s renewable energy capacity by 8.7 per cent. while hydropower and bioenergy capacities increased 30 GW and 9 GW respectively —the best ever year for growth in bioenergy capacity, 2016 marked the first time since 2013 that solar growth outpaced wind energy, which increased by 51 GW. There was an increase of just under 1 GW for geothermal energy.

According to the data, with a total of 812 GW or roughly 41 per cent of the global capacity, Asia accounted for 58 per cent of new renewable additions in 2016. And with a 13.1 per cent increase in renewable capacity, Asia was also the fastest growing region. Adding twice as much as 2015, Africa installed 4.1 GW of new capacity in 2016.

Data specifically for off-grid renewable is being shown for the first time in this year’s edition of Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics. At the end of 2016, 2,800 megawatts (MW) was the total capacity of off-grid renewable electricity, IRENA data shows. While 10 per cent of that was from hydropower, roughly 40 per cent of off-grid electricity was provided by solar energy. It is estimated that off-grid renewable electricity, serves benefits for as many as 60 million households, or 300 million people globally.

(Adapted from CNBC & IRENA)

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