2020 Renewable Energy Highlights: "A Big Year for Transformational Change"

2020 Renewable Energy Highlights: “A Big Year for Transformational Change”

2020 Renewable Energy Highlights: "A Big Year for Transformational Change"

This article was first published in powermag.com.


2020 was a record year for renewable energy.  Wind power grew by 71 GW, up from 60 GW in 2019. Solar PV additions are up by 5%. The pandemic impact has been much smaller than anticipated, which caught some by surprise. For example, the IEA projected an 18% market decline mid-year, only to revise its projection upward in November. It shows the resilience and newfound confidence of this emerging industry. Still, these developments were unevenly distributed. For example, the Indian market was hard hit by the virus and contracted as a result.

In terms of renewable power generation, 2020 was another record year. Worldwide around 28% of power was generated from renewables. This can be explained by the fact that generation growth depends on capacity additions in the previous year. At the same time other types of non-renewable generation were curtailed as electricity demand was reduced because of the crisis. The result was that the percentage of renewables in global generation grew even faster than the generation in absolute terms: in Europe, electricity demand declined by 5% compared to previous year, coal generation declined by nearly 20% and renewable power generation reached a 40% share. In the United States the share was nearly 20% and in China 28%. The power generation transition is accelerating and on track for delivering in line with full transition by 2050.


This article was first published in powermag.com.—Morgan Bazilian is director of the Payne Institute, and professor of Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines. Dolf Gielen is part of the Payne Institute, and director, Technology and Innovation, for the International Renewable Energy Agency.


The LEAP-RE consortium gathers 83 African and European partners covering a wide range of sectors: education/research, private sector, policy and funding. Together, they are building a long-term partnership of African and European stakeholders committed to fostering research and innovation for the development of renewable energy.

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