In 2016, global renewable electricity generation grew by an estimated 6% and represented around 24% of global power output. Hydropower remained the largest source of renewable power, accounting for around 70%, followed by wind (16%), bioenergy (9%) and solar PV (5%). In 2015, net additions to grid-connected renewable electricity capacity reached a record high at 153 GW, 15% higher than in 2014. For the first time, renewables accounted for more than half of new additions to power capacity and overtook coal in terms of world cumulative installed capacity.
In 2016, solar PV annual additions surpassed that of wind, breaking another record, with 70 GW to 75 GW coming on line, almost 50% higher growth versus 2015. Annual grid-connected solar PV capacity in China more than doubled in 2016 versus 2015, with 34.5 GW becoming operational. Developers rushed to connect their projects before feed-in tariffs (FiTs) were reduced as planned in August 2016. In the United States, solar PV annual additions doubled, with over 14 GW coming on line in 2016, followed by Japan (8.5 GW).
In 2016, onshore wind capacity grew by 50 GW to 55 GW, about 15% less versus 2015. This decline was mainly due to China, which connected 19 GW of new onshore wind capacity, significantly less than 32 GW in 2015, when developers rushed to complete their projects to benefit from higher FiTs. However, despite slower capacity growth, China curtailed around 50 terawatt hours (TWh) of wind power last year, with average nationwide curtailment rate increasing from 15% in 2015 to around 17% in 2016. The European Union added over 11 GW, led by Germany and France, followed by the United States (8.2 GW), India (3.6 GW) and Brazil (2.5 GW). In 2016, global offshore wind new additions are estimated to have declined versus 2015 by a third, with annual grid-connected capacity decreasing by about half in Europe as a result of a lull in the United Kingdom and Germany project pipelines.
Hydropower additions are estimated to have decreased for the third consecutive year since 2013, with fewer projects becoming operational in China (12.5 GW). Brazil added almost 5 GW of new capacity. In 2016, CSP capacity grew by almost 0.3 GW, driven almost entirely by Africa. Phase 1 of Morocco's NOOR Ouarzazate Plant, a 160 MW parabolic trough plant with three hours of storage, came on line, while South Africa commissioned two plants.