Global Wind, Solar Capacity Rose Sharpest Ever Last Year, Report Finds

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LONDON—Global wind- and solar-power capacity grew at a record pace last year even as the pandemic sent overall energy demand sharply lower, oil giant BP PLC said in its annual review of global energy markets.

Growth in renewables—led by China—saw global solar-power capacity rise around 22%, while wind-power capacity rose around 18% compared with the previous year, BP said Thursday. The combined rate of additions was the highest since BP started publishing the Statistical Review of World Energy , a closely watched report card on energy use, 70 years ago.

The gains for lower-carbon power come as companies and governments around the world seek to embrace renewable power as part of efforts to reduce emissions and address climate change.

Still, renewable energy as a whole, which includes solar and wind but also geothermal and biomass, represented just 6% of the world’s energy consumption last year, the review found.

Oil made up 31% of consumption, coal 27%, and natural gas 25%. The remainder was made up of hydroelectricity and nuclear power.

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