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Expand chart
Data: IEA; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

The International Energy Agency just issued a big upward revision to estimates of near-term global renewable power growth.

Driving the news: The agency's latest data shows that new capacity additions surged to almost 280 gigawatts last year despite the pandemic.

  • That's 45% higher than 2019 and the largest year-over-year jump in two decades.

Why it matters: IEA said that scale of new capacity additions is the "new normal."

  • They project about 270 GW this year and another 280 in 2022, with renewables accounting for 90% of power generating capacity additions globally.
  • Those combined gigawatt levels are 25% higher than their prior projections in November, with IEA boosting forecasts for all major markets.
  • Their 2021–2022 regional outlook sees growth slowing in China — the world's largest market — and slightly in the U.S. compared to 2020, but accelerating in Europe, India and Latin America.

The big picture: "Wind and solar power are giving us more reasons to be optimistic about our climate goals as they break record after record," IEA executive director Fatih Birol said.

Yes, but: The global power system is still dominated by fossil fuels and global emissions are far off track from the Paris Agreement goals.

  • Governments must "build on this promising momentum" with policies that spur even higher investments in renewables and grid infrastructure, Birol said in a statement.

Go deeper

California energy commission mandates solar panels for new buildings

A person carrying a solar panel into a home in a home in Alamo, California, in May 2017. Photo: Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The California Energy Commission voted Wednesday to require solar panels and battery energy storage systems in new commercial buildings and certain multifamily residences beginning in 2023, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's an aggressive step in California's transition away from fossil fuels and broader drive to cut carbon emissions, although the provision must first be approved by the state's Building Standards Commission.

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.

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