2016 a record year for renewables

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Global renewable energy generation capacity increased by 161 GW in 2016, making the strongest year ever for new capacity additions, according to data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2017, estimates that by the end of last year the world’s renewable generation capacity reached 2,006 GW, with solar energy showing particularly strong growth.

IRENA’s new data shows that last year’s additions grew the world’s renewable energy capacity by 8.7%, with a record 71 GW of new solar energy leading the growth. 2016 marked the first time since 2013 that solar growth outpaced wind energy, which increased by 51 GW, while hydropower and bioenergy capacities increased 30 GW and 9 GW respectively.

 

Asia accounted for 58% of new renewable additions in 2016, according to the data, giving it a total of 812 GW or roughly 41% of the global capacity. Asia was also the fastest growing region, with a 13.1% increase in renewable capacity. Africa installed 4.1 GW of new capacity in 2016, twice as much as 2015.
This year’s edition of Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics contains for the first time data specifically for off-grid renewables. IRENA shows that off-grid renewable electricity capacity reached 2,800 MW at the end of 2016. Roughly 40% of off-grid electricity was provided by solar energy and 10% from hydropower. The majority of the remainder came from bioenergy. It is estimated that globally as many as 60 million householdsare served with and benefit from off-grid renewable electricity.

Highlights by technology

Hydropower: In 2016, about half of new hydro capacity was installed in Brazil and China (14.6 GW in total). Other countries with major hydro expansion (over 1 GW) included: Canada; Ecuador; Ethiopia and India.

Wind energy: Almost three-quarters of new wind energy capacity was installed last year in just four countries: China (+19 GW); USA (+9 GW); Germany (+5 GW); and India (+4 GW). Brazil continued to show strong growth, with an increase of 2 GW in 2016.

Bioenergy: The majority of bioenergy capacity expansion occurred in Asia last year (+5.9 GW) and Asia is fast approaching Europe in terms of its share of global bioenergy capacity (32 per cent compared to 34 per cent in Europe). Europe (+1.3 GW) and South America (+0.9 GW) were the other two regions where bioenergy capacity expanded significantly.

Solar energy: Asia saw the most growth in solar capacity last year, with capacity of 139 GW (+50 GW). Almost half of all new solar capacity was installed in China in 2016 (+34 GW). Other countries with significant expansion included: USA (+11 GW); Japan (+8 GW) and India (+4 GW). Capacity in Europe expanded by 5 GW to reach 104 GW, with most expansion occurring in Germany and the UK.

Geothermal energy: Geothermal power capacity increased by 780 MW in 2016, with expansions in Kenya (+485 MW), Turkey (+150 MW), Indonesia (+95 MW) and Italy (+55 MW).