2021 Was a Great Year for Wind and Solar

Last year was a banner year for renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Despite facing a few obstacles including a global pandemic, persistent supply chain challenges, and the rising costs of materials, growth of renewables hit a new record high in 2021. We wanted to take a moment to give wind and solar the pat on the back they deserve, but as we look to the future of renewable energy, there is still a lot of work to be done. 

Just How Good Was It?

New clean energy capacity was added both domestically and globally in 2021. According to the International Energy Administration’s Renewables 2021 report, almost 290 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable power was commissioned in 2021, 3% higher than 2020’s already exceptional growth. While solar leads the pack, accounting for more than half of all renewable power expansion, wind and hydropower are also doing their part. In the US for example, an estimated 17.1 GW of wind capacity came online last year, a new record. 

Speaking of the US, how did we do on the renewable front last year? According to data from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), from January to October of 2021, wind and solar accounted for a whopping 85.9% of new US power capacity. Like elsewhere in the world, solar represents the largest piece of the renewable energy pie, with large-scale solar making up 37.2% of new capacity. Wind power accounted for 33.2%, and small-scale solar accounted for another 15.5%. 

The Future of Renewables

Over the next five years, the IEA anticipates renewables to account for almost 95% of the increase in global power capacity. That means by 2026, global renewable capacity will rise more than 60% from 2020 levels, an amount equivalent to the current total global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined. While renewable energy certainly has a bright future ahead of it, more work is still needed if we want to be on track to hit net-zero emissions by 2050. 

There are several challenges to further accelerating renewable energy adoption. Along with inconsistent policy support from governments and a lack of social acceptance, barriers to grid availability and integration continue to exist. Because wind and solar utilize a decentralized method of energy generation (compared to fossil fuels and nuclear power which are highly centralized), developers often run into issues finding the right sites for solar or wind farms that will still offer access to existing grid infrastructure. 

To help pave the way for better renewable infrastructure planning, MapRight makes it possible to view the location of transmission lines, substations, and permitted wind farms on any map you make in our software. You can even see the details alongside other features such as topography, wetlands, and land use. 

We Want To Make 2022 Another Great Year for Wind & Solar

2021 may have been a big year for renewables, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels. The opportunities for further growth in the clean energy sector are still massive, and we want to help make your renewable energy dreams a reality in 2022. To start mapping out the future of renewable energy in the US, sign up for MapRight today and enjoy our 7-day free trial. 

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