IRENA: 2016 record year for renewables, bioenergy

By Anna Simet | April 05, 2017

A new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency finds that 2016 was a banner year for addition of global renewable energy capacity.

Led by solar, wind, hydropower and bioenergy, respectively, capacity totaled 161 gigawatts (GW), bringing global renewable energy capacity to over 2,000 GW. 2016 brought an overall increased capacity of 8.7 percent, according to IRENA, with solar increasing by 71 GW, wind by 51 GW, hydropower by 30 GW and bioenergy by 9 GW, the largest increase in global capacity bioenergy has ever experienced.

Adding the most renewable capacity last year was Asia, accounting for over half, at 58 percent. The 13.1 percent increase from 2015 brings the country’s capacity to 812 GW, 41 percent of the world’s renewable capacity. Following Asia was Africa, with 4.1 GW installed in 2016—twice as much as it brought online in 2015.

On bioenergy specifically, the report finds that the majority of bioenergy capacity expansion occurred in Asia last year with over 5.9 GW added. The country is rivaling Europe in terms of global bioenergy capacity share, according to IRENA, at 32 percent, compared to 34 percent in Europe. Europe (up 1.3 GW) and South America (up 0.9 GW) were the other two regions where bioenergy capacity expanded significantly.

In North America, Canada added 1.37 GW, Mexico added 0.87 GW, and the U.S. added 12.4 GW, for a total of 14.69 MW of renewable capacity added in 2016.