IEA hails ‘new normal’ of dramatic renewable growth as new solar installations hit 135GW in 2020

Last year, renewable capacity additions were up by 45% globally to almost 280GW, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This was the highest year-on-year increase since 1999, but the agency has said these high additions are the “new normal” in 2021 and 2022. Over the next two years, renewables are expected to account for 90% of new power capacity expansion.

Solar PV is expected to have annual additions of 162GW by 2022, putting it at almost 50% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019. This is a step up from the IEA’s previous forecast of 119GW of new solar capacity by 2022, announced in November 2020.

This will build on a 23% expansion of new solar PV installations in 2020, hitting almost 135GW. This made up a significant chunk of the 45% increase in renewable capacity additions last year, breaking previous records. This was also bolstered by an exceptional 90% rise in global wind capacity additions.

In Europe, annual capacity additions are forecast to increase 11% to 44GW in 2021, and to 49GW in 2022 the IEA said. With such growth, the continent is set to become the second-largest renewable power market after China.

This capacity growth is being pushed by further policy support as well as a booming corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) market. In the UK, this includes the proposal to re-include solar PV in the 2021 Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, the report notes.

After being excluded from the two previous auctions, in 2020 the government announced there will be a Pot One auction in the upcoming fourth round of the CfD that includes established technologies including solar PV and onshore wind. This week, the government confirmed that the auction will open to applications from December 2021.