Renewable generation capacity increased by 152 gigawatts (GW) or 8.3% during 2015, the highest annual growth rate on record, according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Renewable Capacity Statistics 2016 finds that as of the end of 2015, 1,985GW of renewable generation capacity existed globally.
“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 IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
“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.”
2015 was a record year for both wind and solar due in large part to a continued decline in technology costs. Wind power grew 63GW, or 17%, in 2015.
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.
At year end, hydropower accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable power generation capacity with an installed capacity of 1,209GW, the majority of which are large-scale plants. Wind and solar energy accounted for most of the remainder, with an installed capacity of 432GW and 227GW respectively. Other renewables included 104GW of bioenergy, 13GW of geothermal energy and about 500MW of marine energy including tide, wave and ocean.
About 95% of wind capacity is now located in Asia, mostly in China and India, Europe and North America; and 90%, or 57.1GW of new capacity was installed in those regions in 2015.