Renewables reach record global capacity
A record level of renewable energy capacity was installed globally last year, even though investment in clean energy was 23% lower than in 2015.
Research commissioned by the UN found that new investment in renewables, excluding large hydro, totalled $241.6bn, the lowest since 2013.
However, falling costs resulted in a record 138.5 gigawatts of wind, solar and other renewables being added, 8% more than in 2015. The additional capacity figure was equivalent to 55% of all the generating capacity added globally in 2016 and the highest proportion in one year.
Investment in new renewables’ capacity was also roughly double that in fossil fuel generation, said the report, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017.
Overall, the proportion of global electricity coming from new renewable sources increased from 10.3% in 2015 to 11.3% in 2016, preventing an estimated 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon emissions.
The study comes after research by the World Energy Council revealed that energy leaders believe that the world is on an irrevocable path towards decarbonisation, one that is no longer entirely dependent on a global climate agreement.
‘Advances in electric storage and renewable energy are key areas that have the potential to dictate the pace and the scale of the energy transition,’ the council said in its report, World Energy Issues Monitor 2017.
The council said the worldwide implementation of renewable energy capacity had demonstrated a degree of certainty about the future role of these sources in the energy mix.
Meanwhile, renewables reduced Europe’s carbon emissions by 10% in 2015, more than the annual GHG emissions of Italy, the European Environment Agency has reported.
It estimated that renewable energy accounted for more than three-quarters (77%) of new electricity-generating capacity installed in Europe in 2015. The agency also said that, in both 2014 and 2015, Germany, Italy and the UK generated the largest reductions in fossil fuel use and carbon emissions due to the uptake of renewable energy.
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