×

Renewables break records as wind and solar come online, International Renewable Energy Agency says

J. Emilio Flores | Corbis News | Getty Images

Last year saw global renewable energy generation capacity increase by 161 gigawatts (GW), the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, said on Thursday.

IRENA said that, by the end of 2016, the planet's renewable energy capacity had hit an estimated 2,006 GW.

It added that its data showed renewable energy capacity grew by 8.7 percent, with 71 GW of new solar energy leading the way. Wind energy grew by 51 GW, hydropower increased by 30 GW and bioenergy 9 GW.

"We are witnessing an energy transformation taking hold around the world, and this is reflected in another year of record breaking additions in new renewable energy capacity," IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin said in a statement.

"This growth in deployment emphasizes the increasingly strong business case for renewables which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment," Amin added.

Accelerating this momentum would need extra investment "in order to move decisively towards decarbonising the energy sector and meet climate objectives," he went on to say.

IRENA's announcement came on the same day the U.K. government released energy statistics which showed that renewable electricity generation in 2016 was 82.8 terawatt hours, down one per cent compared to 2015.

In addition, the government said that renewables' share of electricity generation fell to 24.4 percent in 2016, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points compared to the previous year. Capacity for renewable energy at the end of 2016 was 34.7 GW, representing an increase of 13.7 percent.