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Renewables

Renewables, including solar, wind, hydro, biofuels and others, are at the centre of the transition to a less carbon-intensive and more sustainable energy system.

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Key findings

Annual renewable electricity capacity additions, main and accelerated cases, 2014-2026

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Improved policies and COP26 climate goals are set to propel renewable electricity growth to new heights

Additions of renewable power capacity are on track to set yet another annual record in 2021, driven by solar PV. Almost 290 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable power will be commissioned this year, which is 3% higher than 2020’s already exceptional growth. Solar PV alone accounts for more than half of all renewable power expansion in 2021, followed by wind and hydropower.

The growth of renewable capacity is forecast to accelerate in the next five years, accounting for almost 95% of the increase in global power capacity through 2026. We have revised up our forecast from a year earlier, as stronger policy support and ambitious climate targets announced for COP26 outweigh the current record commodity prices that have increased the costs of building new wind and solar PV installations. Globally, renewable electricity capacity is forecast to increase by over 60% between 2020 and 2026, reaching more than 4 800 GW. This is equivalent to the current global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined.

Renewables and low-carbon share in power generation in the Net Zero Scenario, 2000-2030

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Renewable power needs to expand significantly to meet the IEA Net Zero Scenario share of 60% by 2030

In 2020, renewable electricity generation rose ~7%, with wind and solar PV technologies together accounting for almost 60% of this increase. The share of renewables in global electricity generation reached almost 29% in 2020, a record annual increase of two percentage points. However, the drop in electricity demand caused by the Covid-19 slowdown in economic activity and mobility is a key reason for this record. Renewable power deployment as a whole still needs to expand significantly to meet the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario share of more than 60% of generation by 2030.

The IEA/IRENA Renewables Policies Database provides information on policies and measures taken or planned to encourage the uptake of renewable energy in all IEA and IRENA Member countries and signatories.

Our work

The aim of the Bioenergy TCP is to increase knowledge and understanding of bioenergy systems in order to facilitate the commercialisation and market deployment of environmentally sound, socially acceptable, and cost-competitive, low-carbon bioenergy systems and technologies, and to advise policy and industrial decision makers accordingly.

The SolarPACES TCP supports collaboration to advance development and deployment of concentrating solar thermal technologies. From a system perspective, concentrating solar power (CSP) offers significant advantages. With built-in thermal storage, CSP can improve the flexibility and stability of power systems, provide dispatchable electricity and help integrating more variable renewables.

The Geothermal TCP promotes international collaboration fostering and enhancing the development and sustainable use of geothermal energy. Activities are chiefly directed towards the sharing of information; developing technologies, techniques and best practices for exploration, development and utilisation; and producing and disseminating authoritative geothermal information and data.

The Hydrogen TCP, founded in 1977, works to accelerate hydrogen implementation and widespread utilisation in the areas of production, storage, distribution, power, heating, mobility and industry. The Hydrogen TCP seeks to optimise environmental protection, improve energy security, transform global energy systems and grid management, and promote international economic development, as well as serving as the premier global resource for expertise in all aspects of hydrogen technology.

Hydropwer is the largest source of renewable electricity in the world and it is particularly suited to providing system flexibility. The Hydropower TCP is a global platform for advancing hydropower technology, encouraging the sustainable use of water resources for the development and management of hydropower.

The OES TCP connects organisations and individuals working in the ocean energy sector to accelerate the viability, uptake and acceptance of ocean energy systems in an environmentally acceptable manner. The work of the OES TCP covers all forms of energy generation in which sea water forms the motive power through its physical and chemical properties i.e. wave, tidal range, tidal and ocean currents, ocean thermal energy conversion and salinity gradients.

Established in 1993, the PVPS TCP supports international collaborative efforts to enhance the role of photovoltaic solar energy (PV) as a cornerstone in the transition to sustainable energy systems. The PVPS TCP seeks to serve as a global reference for policy and industry decision makers; to act as an impartial and reliable source of information on trends, markets and costs; and to provide meaningful guidelines and recommended practices for state-of-the-art PV applications.

Through multi-disciplinary international collaborative research and knowledge exchange, as well as market and policy recommendations, the SHC TCP works to increase the deployment rate of solar heating and cooling systems by breaking down the technical and non-technical barriers to increase deployment.

The Wind TCP’s mission is to stimulate co-operation on wind energy research, development, and deployment (RD&D). The Wind TCP provides high quality information and analysis to member governments and commercial sector leaders by addressing technology development, deployment and its benefits, markets, and policy options.