Record Growth in Renewables Achieved Despite Energy Crisis

Expansion of renewable power generation in 2022 confirms upward trend of renewables against declining new fossil fuel capacity

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 21 March 2023 – By the end of 2022, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 3372 Gigawatt (GW), growing the stock of renewable power by a record 295 GW or by 9.6 per cent. An impressive 83 per cent of all power capacity added last year was produced by renewables.

Renewable Capacity Statistics 2023, released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that renewable energy continues to grow at record levels despite global uncertainties, confirming the downward trend of fossil fueled power generation.

“This continued record growth shows the resilience of renewable energy amidst the lingering energy crisis”, IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera said. “The strong business case of renewables coupled with enabling policies has sustained an upward trend of their share in the global energy mix year on year. 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.”

While many countries increased their renewable capacity in 2022, the significant growth of renewables is persistently concentrated in a few countries and regions like Asia, the USA and Europe. IRENA’s data finds that almost half of all new capacity in 2022 was added in Asia, resulting in a total of 1.63 Terawatt (TW) of renewable capacity by 2022. China was the biggest contributor, adding 141 GW to the continent’s new capacity.

Renewables in Europe and North America grew by 57.3 GW and 29.1 GW respectively. Africa continued to expand steadily with an increase of 2.7 GW, slightly above last year. Oceania continued its double-digit growth with an expansion of 5.2 GW and South America continued an upward trend, with a capacity expansion of 18.2 GW. The Middle East recorded its highest increase in renewables on record, with 3.2 GW of new capacity commissioned in 2022, an increase of 12.8 per cent.

La Camera added: “As energy demand is expected to rise in many regions of the world, the energy transition requires a step-change that delivers a strategic shift beyond the decarbonization of the supply side. 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 accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable generation capacity with 1250 GW, solar and wind continued to dominate new generating capacity. Together, both technologies contributed 90 per cent to the share of all new renewable capacity in 2022. Solar capacity led with 22 per cent increase, followed by wind energy, which increased its generating capacity by 9 per cent.

Technology highlights:

  • Hydropower: Renewable hydropower capacity increased by 21 GW (+2 per cent), an expansion consistent with recent years.
  • Wind energy: With an increase of 75 GW (+9 per cent) in 2022, growth in wind power continued to slow compared to the previous two years.
  • Solar energy: Solar photovoltaic (PV) power accounted for almost all the increase in solar power in 2022, with an increase of 191 GW in solar PV.
  • Bioenergy: Expansion slowed slightly in 2022 (+7.6 GW compared to +8.1 GW in 2021).
  • Geothermal energy: Geothermal energy increased by a very modest 181 MW.
  • Off-grid electricity: Capacity grew by 1,237 MW in 2022 (+11 per cent) to reach 12.4 GW.

Read the Renewable Capacity Statistics 2023 and the report Highlights.