The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently released the “2021 Renewable Energy Installed Capacity Statistics” report, showing that last year, the world’s new renewable energy installed capacity exceeded 260 GW, an increase of nearly 50% year-on-year, setting a record high.
The industry generally believes that despite the global economic slowdown caused by the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the renewable energy industry has still achieved unexpected growth. This indicates that the “green power era” is approaching, and 2021 will become the next rapid pace of renewable energy. A new starting point in the development period. The industry urgently needs to increase the scale of investment and technological innovation during this period to achieve energy transformation to the greatest extent and at the fastest speed.
“Scenery” contributes the largest increment
IRENA data shows that last year, more than 80% of all new power generation capacity came from renewable energy sources, of which solar and wind energy accounted for 91% of the new renewable energy installed capacity. As of the end of last year, the cumulative installed capacity of global renewable energy power generation has reached 2,799 GW, an increase of 10.3% over 2019.
In sharp contrast to the strong growth of renewable energy power, fossil fuel power generation is showing a downward trend. IRENA’s report shows that last year, the world’s new fossil fuel power generation capacity dropped from 64 GW in 2019 to 60 GW.
According to the report, hydropower still occupies the largest share in the renewable energy power generation structure. Last year, 25 GW of new installed capacity was added, a year-on-year increase of 2%. As of the end of last year, the cumulative total installed capacity reached 1,211 GW. There was almost no new installed capacity of geothermal energy last year. Except for Turkey, which added 99 MW, the increase in other countries and regions was very small. As of the end of last year, the total installed capacity was about 164 MW. New biomass power generation capacity dropped year-on-year, from 6.4 GW in 2019 to 2.5 GW.
IRENA pointed out that “wind and solar” power continues to play the role of the “main force” in the growth of global new power generation capacity. Among them, solar energy accounted for more than 48% of the newly installed power generation capacity. Thanks to the 78 GW of new installed capacity in Asia, last year the solar energy achieved 127 GW of new installed capacity, an increase of 22% year-on-year. The new installed capacity of wind power has doubled year-on-year, from 58 GW in 2019 to 111 GW. Among them, offshore wind power accounted for 5% of the total installed wind power capacity.
IRENA Director-General Francesco LaCamera said: “Despite the great challenges and uncertainties facing the world last year, the strong growth of the renewable energy industry still brings optimism to the world, and at the same time further encourages the world to move towards a better, fairer, A resilient, clean and just future endeavour.”
China becomes the largest “green electricity” market
IRENA specifically pointed out in the report that China was the most prominent key growth market for clean energy development last year, and it has become the world’s largest renewable energy market. Last year, China added 136 GW of renewable energy power generation capacity, of which 72 GW were from wind power, 49 GW was from solar energy, 12 GW was from hydropower, and more than 2 GW of biomass power generation capacity increased.
Although the installed capacity of renewable energy power in the United States has also increased, the growth rate is far lower than that in China. Data show that last year, the United States added only 29 gigawatts of renewable energy power generation capacity, of which 15 gigawatts came from solar energy and 14 gigawatts came from wind energy.
In addition to China and the United States, Japan has added more than 5 GW of solar power installed capacity, South Korea has added more than 4 GW of solar power installed capacity, and 10 other countries have added more than 1 GW of wind power installed capacity.
The African region continues to steadily expand its clean energy power generation territory, adding 2.6 GW of installed capacity last year. Although Oceania occupies a small share of the renewable energy market, it was the fastest-growing region last year, with new power generation capacity increasing by 18.4% year-on-year.
IRENA believes that clean energy is now regarded as a safe investment option. With the continuous advancement of technology, the cost of clean energy power generation has dropped rapidly. At present, wind and solar energy have become the cheapest sources of electricity in most parts of the world.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts that in 2021, clean energy capital expenditures, including biofuels, will account for 25% of all global energy capital expenditures, compared with only 15% in 2014. Given that clean energy is transitioning from relying on subsidy mechanisms to having low-cost advantages, the next stage of the development of the industry will undoubtedly continue to be dominated by technological innovation and breakthroughs. It is estimated that between 2021 and 2030, a new batch of clean energy giants will be born in the world.
“The era of renewable energy has arrived”
“The gratifying growth of renewable energy makes us reflect and gives us an opportunity to align our development trajectory with the road to achieving inclusive prosperity.” FrancescoLaCamera said, “It turns out that we are seizing this opportunity, although Last year was very difficult, but as we predicted, the era of renewable energy has arrived.”
The industry also generally believes that in the context of the epidemic hitting the world, the cost of clean energy power generation is still falling, the market for clean energy technology is still expanding, and the benefits of energy transition have never been so obvious. It is estimated that the 10 years beginning in 2021 will be the “golden 10 years” of global climate action, environmental protection and emission reduction, and vigorously promoting the investment layout of clean energy transition.
However, FrancescoLaCamera emphasized that in order to achieve the “Paris Agreement” goal of controlling the temperature rise not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, it is necessary to continue to promote such a rapid development trend of clean energy. Although many technologies to reduce carbon emissions from high-polluting industries already exist, these technologies require capital to develop in order to be used on an industrial scale. The investment cycle of heavy industry is generally 25 years, and the next round of investment is expected to begin around 2030.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) also pointed out that in the 10 years from 2021, global spending on clean energy technology needs to at least triple to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
IEA Director-General Fatih Birol said that in order to achieve the mid-century climate goals as soon as possible, governments need to increase investment in clean energy technology research and development by 2030. “Without faster clean energy innovation, achieving net zero emissions is almost impossible. Setting ambitious climate goals is a courageous policy decision, but achieving these goals requires more than courage.”