Renewable Energy Gained Momentum in 2021 Despite Global Uncertainties – Report

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A new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has shown that renewable energy grew and gained momentum in 2021 despite global uncertainties.

The Agency stated that at the end of 2021, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 3,064 Gigawatt (GW), showing an increase in the stock of renewable power by 9.1 percent.

IRENA noted that although hydropower accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable generation capacity with 1,230 GW, its 2022 Renewable Capacity Statistics showed that solar and wind continued to dominate new generating capacity.

The agency stated that both technologies contributed 88% to the share of all new renewable capacity in 2021; but Solar capacity led with 19% increase, followed by wind energy, which according to IRENA increased its generating capacity by 13%.

IRENA’s director-general, Francesco La Camera said, “This continued 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.

“However, despite the encouraging global trend, our new World Energy Transitions Outlook shows that the energy transition is far from being fast or widespread enough to avert the dire consequences of climate change.

“Our current energy crisis also adds to the evidence that the world can no longer rely on fossil fuels to meet its energy demand. Money directed to fossil fuel power plants yields unrewarding results, both for the survival of a nation and the planet.

“Renewable power should become the norm across the globe. We must mobilise the political will to accelerate the 1.5°C pathway.”

It is noteworthy that to achieve climate goals, renewables must grow at a faster rate than energy demand. Unfortunately, many countries have not reached this point despite the increasing use of renewables for electricity generation.

IRENA’s data revealed that 60% 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 being the biggest contributor added 121 GW to the continent’s new capacity.

Europe and North America—led by the USA—took second and third places respectively, with Europe adding 39 GW, while North America added 38 GW.

In Africa, renewable energy capacity grew by 3.9 percent, while in Central America and the Caribbean, it grew by 3.3 percent. But despite representing steady growth, the pace in both regions still remain slower than the global average.

This indicates the need for stronger international cooperation to optimize electricity markets and drive massive investments in those regions.

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