Hydropower accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable generation capacity with 1 230 GW, IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2022 shows.
Solar and wind energy dominated new generating capacity. Together, solar and wind energy projects contributed 88 percent to the share of all new renewable capacity in 2021. Solar capacity led with 19 percent increase, followed by wind energy, which increased its generating capacity by 13 percent.
Highlights by technology:
Hydropower: Growth in hydro increased steadily in 2021 with the commissioning of several large projects delayed through 2021.
Wind energy: Wind expansion continued at a lower rate in 2021 compared to 2020
(+93 GW compared to +111 GW last year).
Solar energy: With an increase in new capacity in all major world regions in previous years, total global solar capacity has now outgrown wind energy capacity.
Bioenergy: Net capacity expansion increased in 2021 (+10.3 GW compared to +9.1 GW in 2020).
Geothermal energy: Geothermal capacity had an exceptional growth in 2021, with 1.6 GW added.
Off-grid electricity: Off-grid capacity grew by 466 MW in 2021 (+4 percent) to reach 11.2 GW.
“This progress is another testament of renewable energy’s resilience. Its strong performance last year represents more opportunities for countries to reap renewables’ multiple socio-economic benefits,” says IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera.
To achieve climate goals, renewables must grow at a faster pace than energy demand. However, many countries have not reached this point yet, despite significantly increasing the use of renewables for electricity generation.
Sixty percent of the new capacity in 2021 was added in Asia, resulting in a total of 1.46 Terawatt (TW) of renewable capacity by 2021. China was the biggest contributor, adding 121 GW to the continent’s new capacity. Europe and North America — led by the USA — took second and third places respectively, with the former adding 39 GW, and the latter 38 GW. Renewable energy capacity grew by 3.9 percent in Africa and 3.3 percent in Central America and the Caribbean.