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Renewable Sources Made up 72% of New Energy Added in 2019

Renewable Energy
Solar panel installations and a wind turbine at the Phu Lac wind farm in southern Vietnam's Binh Thuan province on April 23, 2019. MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP via Getty Images

Renewable energy made up almost three quarters of all new energy capacity added in 2019, data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows.



That's a record breaking figure, The Guardian reported. As is the fact that more than one third of global power is now provided by renewable sources like wind and solar. But IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera warned that governments must not backtrack on this progress as they work to jump start their economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"In responding to today's crisis, governments may be tempted to focus on short-term solutions," he said, according to The Guardian. "Yet distinctions between short-, medium- and long-term challenges may be deceptive. The pandemic shows that delayed action brings significant economic consequences."

Overall, the report found that renewable energy added slightly less overall capacity in 2019 compared to 2018, at 176 gigawatts (GW) compared to 179. However, the amount of new fossil fuel power added also declined, The Guardian pointed out. Renewables also grew 2.6 times more than fossil fuels and made up 72 percent of new energy capacity added, the report found.

"Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth," La Camera said in a press release. "With renewable additions providing the majority of new capacity last year, it is clear that many countries and regions recognise the degree to which the energy transition can deliver positive outcomes."

Renewable energy grew by 7.6 percent in 2019. On a regional level, 54 percent of that growth occurred in Asia. When it comes to power sources, 90 percent of the growth was driven by solar and wind, which increased by 98 GW and around 60 GW respectively.

However the 2020 outlook may be less bright, CNBC reported. There are concerns that the coronavirus pandemic and the plummeting of oil prices may decrease renewable energy investments, and there are already signs that the virus is interfering with renewable energy supply chains.

For example, Wood Mackenzie projected on Monday that 3 GW of wind and solar installation in India could be delayed because of the coronavirus lockdown and noted that the solar sector in India was heavily dependent on photovoltaic imports from China, which were impacted by the virus.

Meanwhile, the Global Wind Energy Council said in late March that wind's previously projected growth over the next five years would "undoubtedly be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, due to disruptions to global supply chains and project execution in 2020."

WindEurope said 18 manufacturing sites in hard-hit Spain and Italy are now closed, though the majority of the continent's wind turbine factories remain open.

"As an existential threat, the multi-faceted fallout from coronavirus … now sits alongside climate change as a defining challenge of our time," La Camera wrote, as CNBC reported.

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