The renewable energy story during a crisis year was one of resilience and adaptation, yet significant challenges remain. During the year, restrictions on movement and goods as well as the introduction of COVID-19 recovery packages all had an impact on the production and use of renewable energy.
Despite suffering during the onset of the pandemic, renewable energy saw a record increase of new power capacity in 2020 globally and was the only source of electricity generation to experience a net increase in total capacity. Investment in renewable power capacity increased (albeit slightly) for the third consecutive year, and corporations continued to break records for sourcing renewable electricity. More countries are turning towards electrification of heat with renewables, and although production of transport biofuels decreased, sales of electric vehicles (EVs) expanded as did the linking of EVs to renewable power (to a lesser extent). A wave of commitments to action on the climate crisis included a carbon-neutrali target by China, while the United States re-joined the Paris Agreement in early 2021.
At the same time, obstacles that have slowed progress in the renewables sector in past years persisted during 2020. For the first time ever, the number of countries with renewable energy support policies did not increase from the previous year. While renewable energy targets are in place in nearly all countries, many countries were not on track to achieve their 2020 targets in multiple sectors, and many had not yet set new targets as their 2020 targets came to term. Moreover, in COVID-19 recovery packages, investment in fossil fuels was six times greater than for renewable energy.