IRENA: World’s renewable electricity capacity surpassed 3 TW in 2021

IRENA World renewable electricity capacity surpassed 3 TW 2021

Photo: JoergGastmann from Pixabay


April 13, 2022







April 13, 2022






Renewables accounted for 38.3% of global electricity generation capacity at the end of last year, compared to 36.6% in 2020, IRENA said in its annual statistical report. They grew by 9.1% overall and reached 3.06 TW.

New data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed that renewable energy continued to grow in 2021 despite global uncertainties. Hydropower accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable generation capacity with 1.23 TW, according to the Renewable Capacity Statistics 2022 report.

Solar and wind contributed a combined 88% to all new renewable capacity. Solar led with a 19% increase, followed by a 13% jump in the wind sector. Total photovoltaic capacity surpassed wind, at 849 GW versus 825 GW.

The wind power sector expanded by 93 GW, against 110 GW in 2020

Of note, according to a recent report from the Global Wind Energy Council, the sector’s capacity jumped 12% to 837 GW. Projections show the 1 TW mark is set to be topped in the second half of 2023.

Solar power alone accounted for over half of the renewable additions with a record 133 GW last year, followed by 93 GW of wind energy overall (against a revised 110 GW in 2020), IRENA said. New offshore wind energy capacity came in at a record 21 GW.

The world added 9.1% in total renewables or 257 MW and crossed 3 GW to reach 3.06 TW, statistics showed. The 2 TW milestone was hit in 2016. Nominal growth in 2020 was 266 MW, the numbers reveal.

Renewables account for 81% of power generation capacity additions

The share of green capacity in total expansion hit a record 81%. Renewables accounted for 38.3% of global electricity generation capacity at the end of last year, compared to 36.6% in 2020. The level was at just 26.2% in 2012.

The share of renewables in global electricity capacity increased from 26.2% to 38.3% in just nine years

The European Union increased its renewable electricity capacity by 6.8% last year to 512 GW and its share grew by 1.6 percentage points to 79.6%. Looking at the member states in Southeastern Europe, only Cyprus saw an above-average increase, 21.5% to 486 MW, mostly with new solar. But the share of renewables in the island country was only 24.5% at the end of 2021.

The capacity advanced 5.5% in Greece, to 11.5 GW, reaching a 54.5% share of total installed power. Wind and solar accounted for almost the entire increase.

Bulgaria achieved an increase of 2.1% year over year to 4.5 GW, driven by an 8.1% expansion in solar power, to 1.2 GW. Croatia added a solid 6.1%, mostly in wind power, and reached 3.5 GW in total.

Expansion in Turkey beats EU but slips below world average

The remaining EU member states and most other countries in the region saw little or no growth. However, Turkey continued with an impressive expansion in renewables in 2021, though this time slightly below the world average – 8.2% to 53.2 GW.

The country’s wind capacity jumped by a whopping 20.1% to 10.6 GW.

Turkey has just announced that its total electricity generation capacity topped 100 GW in March, and that renewables have a 54% share. It plans to add 20 GW of wind energy by 2030. According to some estimates, the country’s total offshore wind potential is 70 GW.

IRENA’s document shows solar power capacity in Turkey surged 17.2% last year, to 7.8 GW. Its growth in bioenergy was stunning: 49% to 1.6 GW. The additions were split between biogas and the category of solid biofuels and renewable waste.

Serbia, Albania, BiH gaining pace in solar power sector

With its dependence on hydropower, Albania has one of the largest shares of renewables in electricity generation capacity, 95.9%. The level remained unchanged year on year. The country must import significant quantities of power to cover its consumption.

North Macedonia’s capacity jumped 16.7% to 963 MW, IRENA claimed and attributed all the additions to hydropower. Kosovo* achieved extreme growth in relative terms, 77%, but total renewables capacity only got to 242 MW. Namely, a 105 MW wind farm was commissioned last year. Kosovo’s renewables share grew from 9.6% to a still meager 15.8%.

Public data on solar power in the Western Balkans, part of the region tracked by Balkan Green Energy News, is pretty unreliable. According to the agency’s calculations, the capacity in Albania rose by 5 MW to 22 MW, Bosnia and Herzegovina added 18 MW last year to reach 53 MW and Serbia grew from 31 MW to 52 MW.

Kosovo* remained at 10 MW and Montenegro increased its solar power capacity by 1 MW to 7 MW. North Macedonia was unchanged, after IRENA calculated a year ago that the country’s solar photovoltaics sector expanded from 26 MW to 94 MW in 2020.

In the annual update, Serbia’s share of renewables was cut to 34.8% from 37%.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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