Record renewable energy capacity added worldwide as prices plummet

5th July 2017

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A record 161 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity was installed worldwide last year, despite 23% less investment, according to a report from REN21.

It shows that renewable sources are becoming less costly to use than both fossil fuel and nuclear options, with global capacity up by almost 9% over 2015 to approximately 2,017GW.

Global energy-related CO2 emissions from fossil fuels were also found to have remained stable for a third year despite increased demand, and 3% growth in GDP worldwide.

“The world is in a race against time. The single most important thing we could do to reduce CO2 emissions is phase out coal and speed up investments in energy efficiency and renewables,” REN21 executive secretary, Christine Lins, said.

Despite the increase in capacity, the research suggests that the energy transition is not happening fast enough to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement to keep global warming below 2°C.

It argues that investment in all renewable energy technologies, which fell by 30% among emerging countries, and 14% in developed nations last year, must increase.

The transport, heating and cooling sectors continue to lag behind the power sector, with the report urging increased investment in infrastructure that supports low-emission vehicles.

In addition, it argues that subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power, which dramatically exceed those for renewable technologies, are impeding progress, and should be reduced.

“The world is adding more renewable power capacity each year than it adds in new capacity from all fossil fuels combined,” REN21 chair, Arthouros Zervos, said.

“As the share of renewables grows we will need investment in infrastructure as well as a integrated transmission and distribution networks, and measures to balance supply and demand.”


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