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, 1,985 GW 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.”
In terms of regional distribution, the fastest growth in renewable generation capacity came in developing countries. Central America and the Caribbean expanded at a rate of 14.5%. In Asia, where additions accounted for 58% of new global renewable power generation capacity in 2015, capacity expanded at a rate of 12.4%. Capacity increased by 24 GW (5.2%) in Europe and 20 GW (6.3%) in North America.
“The significant growth rates for renewable generation capacity in developing economies are a testament to the strong business case for renewable energy,” said Mr. Amin. “Renewables are not just a solution for industrialized countries, they are also powering economic growth in the fastest growing economies in the developing world.”
In 2015, for the first time ever, the majority of the year's US$286 billion investment in renewable energy was in developing countries. This finding was published in the 10th edition of an annual UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report, which was released in March and also indicated that “coal and gas-fired generation attracted less than half as much capacity investment as renewables last year.”