The year-on-year increase of 7.9% was bolstered by new additions from solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84% of the growth.
A third of global power capacity is now based on renewable energy, the agency said.
Irena’s yearly ‘Renewable Capacity Statistics’ report for 2019 showed that while Asia accounted for 61% of the total new renewable energy installations – having grown its installed renewables capacity by 11.4% – growth was the fastest in Oceania, which achieved a 17.7% rise in installations in 2018.
Africa’s renewable energy capacity expanded by 8.4% year-on-year.
“Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity,” Irena director-general Adnan Amin noted.
He highlighted that the strong growth in 2018 continues the “remarkable trend” of the last five years, which he said reflects an ongoing shift towards renewable power as the driver of global energy transformation.
“Renewable energy deployment needs to grow even faster, however, to ensure that we can achieve the global climate objectives and Sustainable Development Goals. Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonising their economies.”
The analysis found that while nonrenewable generation capacity has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by about 85 GW since 2010, it has increased in both Asia and the Middle East over the same period.
Since 2000, nonrenewable generation capacity has expanded by about 115 GW yearly, on average, with no discernible trend upwards or downwards.