Record 295 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity added in 2022, Irena says

Middle East recorded its largest increase in capacity last year, agency says

A worker inspects solar panels at a solar farm in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China. Reuters
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A record 295 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity was added around the world in 2022, up nearly 10 per cent from the year before, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

Eighty-three per cent of all new capacity last year was produced by renewables, the Abu Dhabi-based agency said in its Renewable Capacity Statistics 2023 report released on Tuesday.

“This continued record growth shows the resilience of renewable energy amid the lingering energy crisis,” said Francesco La Camera, Irena’s director general.

“The strong business case of renewables, coupled with enabling policies, has sustained an upwards trend of their share in the global energy mix year on year,” said Mr La Camera.

“But annual additions of renewable power capacity must grow three times the current level by 2030, if we want to stay on a pathway limiting global warming to 1.5°C.”

Although many countries expanded their renewable capability in 2022, the substantial surge in renewables was still focused in certain countries and regions such as Asia, the US and Europe, Irena said.

Nearly half of all new renewable capacity last year was established in Asia, leading to a combined renewable capacity of 1.63 terawatts (TW). China, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar equipment, added 141 gigawatts to the continent's capacity.

In Europe and North America, renewable energy sources grew by 57.3 gigawatts and 29.1 gigawatts, respectively, according to Irena.

Africa also experienced a steady increase, adding 2.7 gigawatts, which is slightly higher than the previous year.

Oceania continued to experience significant growth, with a boost of 5.2 gigawatts, and South America increased its capacity by 18.2 gigawatts.

Meanwhile, the Middle East recorded its largest increase in renewable energy capacity to date last year, commissioning 3.2 gigawatts of new capacity, reflecting a 12.8 per cent increase, the agency said.

“As energy demand is expected to rise in many regions, the energy transition requires a step-change that delivers a shift beyond the decarbonisation of the supply side,” Mr La Camera said.

“Any expansion of new non-renewables capacity in light of recent global events must be connected to efforts to accelerate the energy transition to make the system more resilient, inclusive and climate-proof.”

Although hydropower commanded the highest percentage of renewable energy generating capacity globally, with 1,250 gigawatts, the installation of new capacity was mostly dominated by solar and wind energy, Irena said.

Solar and wind represented 90 per cent of the total share of new renewable capacity added in 2022, the report said.

Solar energy had the highest increase in generating capacity, with a growth of 22 per cent, while wind energy followed with a 9 per cent increase.

Investment in renewable energy needs to double to more than $4 trillion by the end of the decade to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2050, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook last year.

The IEA’s stated policies scenario, which is based on the latest policy settings worldwide, expects clean energy investment to rise to slightly more than $2 trillion by 2030.

Updated: March 21, 2023, 1:58 PM