Renewable energy consumption (including biofuels but excluding hydro) grew by 2.9 EJ. The annual growth rate of 9.7% was below the historical 10-year average but the absolute increase in energy terms was roughly in-line with 2017, 2018 and 2019 and the largest for any fuel in 2020.
By country, China was by far the largest contributor to renewables growth (1.0 EJ), followed by the US (0.4 EJ), then Japan, the United Kingdom, India and Germany (all 0.1 EJ). Europe, as a region, contributed 0.7 EJ.
Solar capacity rose by 127 GW, while solar electricity generation rose by a record 1.3 EJ / 148 TWh (20%). The share of solar in the power generation mix has continually increased over the last 10 years and solar now comprises 27% of renewable generation, albeit just 3.2% of total power generation.
Wind capacity expanded by 111GW- almost double its previous highest annual increase. Wind provided the largest contribution to the growth of renewables electricity generation – 1.5 EJ / 173 TWh.
Biofuels production fell 6% globally in 2020 (113,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day or boe/d) in contrast to the 6% average growth for the 10 years prior.
Moderate growth in Asia (4,000 boe/d) was more than compensated by a decline in the US (64,000 boe/d), Argentina (19,000 boe/d) and Brazil (16,000 boe/d). Asia’s production was resilient due to an increase in biodiesel whereas ethanol production decreased in all major regions by 7 to 12% (107,000 boe/d globally).
Biodiesel is the dominant fuel produced in Europe and Asia Pacific (making up 83% and 77% of biofuels respectively in 2020), while ethanol is the main fuel in North America (83% of total) and South and Central America (72%).
Biofuels consumption fell by 5% (92,000 boe/d) in 2020.
As with production, the decline was largest in the US (68,000 boe/d), most of which was ethanol, but also in Argentina (13,000 boe/d), due to reduced biodiesel consumption. European biofuel consumption grew 1% in 2020 (3,000 boe/d). At the global level, ethanol made up 59% of biofuels in 2019, but the share of biodiesel has risen continually. For example, biodiesel’s share was 26% in 2010 but rose to 41% last year.
Geothermal capacity grew by less than 1% (163 MW) in 2020, to reach 14.1 GW. The largest additions to capacity were in Turkey (98 MW) New Zealand (32 GW) and the US (32 GW). The US has the largest geothermal capacity with 2.6 GW (18% of the world total), followed by the Indonesia (2.1 GW), Philippines (1.9 GW) and Turkey (1.6 GW).
Geothermal power generation grew by 3.7% in 2020. Overall the geothermal share of global power generation remains very small (less than 1%).