IRENA: Renewables surge in 2015

Illustration (Image: flickr/Olearys)

Renewable generation capacity has made the highest annual growth rate on record, with increase of 8.3% or 152 GW during 2015, according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

IRENA’s ‘Renewable Capacity Statistics 2016’ finds that as of the end of 2015, 1,985 GW of renewable generation capacity existed globally.

The previous year was a record year for both wind and solar due in large part to a continued decline in technology costs, IRENA states, with wind power growth of 63 GW or 17% driven by declines in onshore turbine prices of up to 45% since 2010, and solar capacity increase of 47 GW or 26% thanks to price drops of up to 80% for solar photovoltaic modules in the same time period.

When it comes to marine energy, including wave and tidal technologies, it grew for an estimated 25 MW, or 4.8%.

Hydropower capacity increased by 35 GW or 3%, while both bioenergy and geothermal energy capacity increased 5% each, with 5 GW and 1 GW respectively.

Image: IRENA

“Renewable energy deployment continues to surge in markets around the globe, even in an era of low oil and gas prices. Falling costs for renewable energy technologies, and a host of economic, social and environmental drivers are favoring renewables over conventional power sources,” said Adnan Amin, IRENA’s General Director. “This impressive growth, coupled with a record $286 billion invested in renewables in 2015, sends a strong signal to investors and policymakers that renewable energy is now the preferred option for new power generation capacity around the world.”

Overall, capacity has increased by roughly one-third over the last five years, with most of this growth coming from new installations of wind and solar energy, according to IRENA.

In terms of regional distribution, the fastest growth in renewable generation capacity came in developing countries.

Central America and the Caribbean expanded at a rate of 14.5%, while in Asia, where additions accounted for 58% of new global renewable power generation capacity in 2015, capacity expanded at a rate of 12.4%. Capacity increased by 24 GW or 5.2% in Europe and 20 GW or 6.3% in North America.

At year end, hydropower accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable power generation capacity with an installed capacity of 1,209 GW.

Wind and solar energy accounted for most of the remainder, with an installed capacity of 432 GW and 227 GW respectively.

Other renewables included 104 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and about 500 MW of marine energy.

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