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Half of the world’s new power capacity came from renewables last year, with China leading the way

A Chinese worker looks at water gushing from open sluice gates at the Three Gorges dam.
Hot dam.
  • Cassie Werber
By Cassie Werber


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

A fundamental shift is underway in energy markets, according to the International Energy Agency. The group has set out a hugely detailed plan (pdf) for mitigating climate change in a new report, highlighting how the link between economic growth and emissions is weakening.

Last year, the global economy grew by 3% but emissions stayed flat. This was “the first time in at least 40 years that such an outcome has occurred outside economic crisis,” the IEA said.

This is in part thanks to a surge in renewable power generation. In 2014, more than half of all new energy generating capacity came from hydropower schemes, wind turbines, solar farms and other renewable sources, the agency said. In total, renewables accounted for 128 gigawatts of new power capacity, attracting  some $270 billion in investments.

The biggest share of that, by far, came from China. The country deserves more credit for its renewables efforts, according to the IEA. China spent around $80 billion on new renewables generating capacity in 2014, as much as the European Union ($46 billion) and US ($34 billion) combined.

At this rate, nearly half of all generating capacity—not just new additions—will be fuelled by renewable sources in 2030, up from around a third today:


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