LONDON (Reuters) - Renewable energy generation capacity expanded by 8.3 percent last year to 1,985 gigawatts globally, the fastest annual rate on record, data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed on Thursday.
The strong growth was mainly due to a continued decline in technology costs. Overall, capacity has increased by roughly a third over the last five years, mostly fueled by new installations of wind and solar energy.
Wind power capacity rose by 17 percent, or 63 gigawatts (GW), from the previous year as the cost of onshore wind turbines fell. Solar power capacity increased by 37 percent, or 47 GW, due to declines in the price of photovoltaic modules, according to IRENA's Renewables Capacity Statistics 2016.
"Renewable energy deployment continues to surge in markets around the globe, even in an era of low oil and gas prices," IRENA's director general Adnan Z. Amin said in a statement.
"Falling costs for renewable energy technologies, and a host of economic, social and environmental drivers are favoring renewables over conventional power sources," Amin added.
Regionally, the fastest growth in renewable generation capacity was in developing countries. In Central America and the Caribbean it increased at a rate of 14.5 percent last year while capacity in Asia rose by 12.4 percent.
(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Susan Fenton)