Renewable energy has taken the world by storm and has contributed to powering homes and businesses in addition to helping clean up our environment. From its inception, renewable energy has continued to grow by leaps and bounds year after year. Although many have known anecdotally that there has been an increase in renewable energy levels, a recent study by the International Energy Agency confirms that renewable energy created electricity has hit record levels in 2020. Additionally, the fossil fuel industry declined due to COVID-19.
Investments in new energy throughout 2020 have radically skewed to renewable energy. According to the International Energy Agency report, almost 90% of 2020’s new electricity generation is from renewable energy sources. In contrast, only 10% is powered by gas and coal sources. Renewable energy is on track to only keep growing, with some experts believing that it will be the world’s largest power source by 2025. This would eclipse the current electricity power leader of coal, the leader for the past 50 years which has supplied around a third of the world’s electricity.
Among the renewable electricity sources, the pack is led by hydropower which supplies around half of renewable electricity and is then followed by wind and solar electricity generation sources. Since 2010, solar power capacity has increased 18 times over and wind has increased four times over. This has eaten into the percentage of hydropower as a percentage of renewable electricity which dropped from 77% in 2010 to 45% in 2020.
Driving renewable energy growth in 2020 were the U.S. and China, which added a total of four percent more capacity in total renewable energy output. However, the U.S. and China are not expected to be the nations that will continue to power the growth of renewable electricity over the next year in 2021. Instead, India and the nations of the European Union are supposed to be the countries that will be driving the growth of renewable energy. The European Union and some of its member countries have already set aside billions to help promote and implement renewable energy solutions.
2021 will be a crucial year for renewable energy in the U.S. given that the incoming administration may implement policies that encourage the creation, installation, and deployment of renewable energy solutions across the country. This could especially be true of easier to deploy renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Much of the progress will also depend on how cooperative Congress is with the incoming administration’s energy agenda.
No matter what happens in 2021 and beyond, it is incontrovertible that 2020 set records in the area of renewable energy. Through long-term and consistent investment, these energy sources were deployed in record numbers while their more traditional counterparts – coal and gas – declined and do not seem on track for recovery to their pre-2020 numbers. Renewable energy sources are part of our present and are the wave of the future.