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Record green power added in 2016 as costs tumble

WORLDWIDE: Global renewable electricity generation capacity increased by 9% thanks to a record 161 gigawatts (GW) of new installations in 2016, even as the overall sum invested fell, a survey has shown.

Solar and wind power added 81% of new renewable capacity last year (pic: DP Energy)
Solar and wind power added 81% of new renewable capacity last year (pic: DP Energy)

The bulk of the renewable power deployed was in the form of solar photovoltaic (which accounted for around 47% of the new capacity) and wind power (34% of new capacity), according to the annual report from the UN-affiliated network REN21.

The falling cost of these technologies was reflected in a drop in the overall investment volume from $312.2 in 2015 to $241.6 billion last year.

The increased deployment brought the global total for installed renewable electricity capacity to 2,017GW, of which hydroelectric power's share fell four points to 54%, REN21 noted.

Although the share of more variable forms of renewable power is increasing, the authors argued experience in some European countries belied the "myth" that green power needs to be backed up by fossil fuel or nuclear baseload generation capacity.

"In 2016, Denmark and Germany, for example, successfully managed peaks of renewables electricity of 140% and 86.3%, respectively," the report noted. It also reported a sharp increase of over 50% in the deployment of grid-connected battery storage, bringing the total to 1.7GW.

Moreover, renewables were becoming the "least cost" option in many areas, the authors observed. "Recent deals in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Arab Emirates saw renewable electricity being delivered at $0.05/kWh or less," they said.

REN21 describes its report as the most comprehensive annual survey of renewable energy technologies, covering 155 countries and 96% of the world's population.

First published on Ends Europe.

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