The world added more solar, wind than anything else last year

For the first time ever, solar and wind made up the majority of new power generation in the world — marking a seismic shift in how nations get their electricity.

Solar additions last year totalled 119 gigawatts, representing 45 per cent of all new capacity, according to a report Tuesday by BloombergNEF. Together, solar and wind accounted for more than two-thirds of the additions. That’s up from less than a quarter in 2010. The surge comes as countries move to slash carbon emissions and as technology costs fall.

“That is a big deal,” said Luiza Demoro, a Brazil-based BNEF analyst. “It shows that we are going in a good direction. It’s good for the climate.”

Global installations of natural gas-fired power — which in 2010 was the No. 1 technology installed in more than one-third of the world — fell to a 10-year low in 2019. Meanwhile, 81 countries installed at least one megawatt of solar last year, with China and India being the top markets for new capacity.

Still, the world added 39 gigawatts of net new coal capacity, up from a 10-year low of 19 gigawatts in 2018.

“This is a good start, but it’s not enough in the long run,” Demoro said in an interview. “Coal still represents a big share — 29 per cent of installed capacity globally, and 35 per cent of all the power produced last year. There is a lot of work to be done to replace that capacity.”

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.