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This is the technology driving the world’s renewables revolution

This is the technology driving the world's renewables revolution

Solar is set to make up 60% of new renewable energy capacity this year. - Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave

Written by

Joe Myers
Writer, Formative Content

  • Global renewable energy capacity increased by 6% last year and is set to increase by 8% this year.
  • The International Energy Agency warns that progress could stall without change.
  • This chart shows the biggest contributors to new capacity.

Renewable energy capacity additions hit 6% and broke another record by reaching almost 295 GW in 2021, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This came despite supply chain challenges brought about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction delays and high costs of raw materials and commodities.

So, which renewable technologies are driving capacity expansion?

Renewable energy capacity

Driving the rise of renewables. Image: International Energy Agency

This chart from the IEA shows the breakdown of new capacity from 2017-2023. The report forecasts that renewable capacity will increase by over 8% this year and break the 300 GW mark for the first time.

Solar is set to make up 60% of this increase. Wind will also play its part, with 2022 offshore wind set to double 2020 capacity. China is expected to leapfrog the European Union and the UK to have the largest cumulative offshore wind capacity by the turn of the year.

However, the report warns that without stronger policies, global additions are expected to remain stable next year compared to this year.

“We cannot afford to ignore either today’s global energy crisis or the climate crisis, but the good news is that we do not need to choose between them – we can tackle both at the same time,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“A massive surge in investment to accelerate clean energy transitions is the only lasting solution. This kind of investment is rising, but we need a much faster increase to ease the pressure on consumers from high fossil fuel prices, make our energy systems more secure and get the world on track to reach our climate goals.”

Some clean tech – like solar PV or wind turbines – is relatively well-established. But, in other areas concerted effort is needed to reap the rewards of zero-carbon technologies.

The World Economic Forum’s First Movers Coalition brings together governments and companies with just this aim, to bring these emerging renewable technologies to commercial scale quickly.

At Davos 2022, the coalition welcomed new members taking it past the 50 mark.

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