Quantcast
Energy
Workers installing solar panels on a barn roof. 10 10 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

2017 Was a Record Breaking Year for Renewables, But More Needs to Be Done to Meet Paris Goals

2017 broke the record for increased renewable energy capacity, Reuters reported Sunday. But it still isn't enough to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in line with the goals of the Paris agreement.


These are the conclusions of the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report, the most recent annual report from Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), an organization that works to facilitate a transition to renewable energy by sharing knowledge, developing policy and urging action.

The report found that the power sector was making inspiring progress in moving towards a renewable future, but that more had to be done by the heating, cooling and transport sectors, which account for 80 percent of global energy demand.

"We may be racing down the pathway towards a 100 percent renewable electricity future but when it comes to heating, cooling and transport, we are coasting along as if we had all the time in the world. Sadly, we don't," REN21 Executive Sec. Randa Adib told Reuters.

Renewable electricity strides included the fact that 70 percent of all new power capacity added to the grid in 2017 came from renewable sources. This was mostly due to the falling price of solar and wind power. Renewable power upped its capacity by almost 9 percent compared with 2016, it's largest annual increase ever.

Solar took the lead, making up almost 55 percent of that increased renewable capacity. The REN21 report found that more solar capacity was installed than capacity for fossil fuels or nuclear energy, echoing an earlier UN-backed report that found that more additional solar capacity was installed in 2017 than all other fuel sources combined. Wind made up 29 percent of new renewable capacity, and hydropower 11 percent.

In another hopeful indicator, the report found that adding new renewable energy capacity was cheaper than adding new fossil fuel capacity in many parts of the world and, in some places, even cheaper than continuing to run existing fossil fuel plants.

However, despite these positive tidings, the report acknowledged that greenhouse gas emissions had also increased by 1.4 percent in 2017, the first time they rose in four years. The report linked this to an increased energy demand of 2.1 percent largely due to economic growth.

The report further highlighted the work that needed to be done in the heating, cooling and transportation sectors. While electricity accounts for only 20 percent of final global energy use, renewable energy accounted for 25 percent of global electricity use. On the other hand, heating and cooling account for 48 percent of final energy use, but only about 10 percent of that is powered by renewable sources and around 16 percent by traditional biomass. Transportation accounts for 32 percent of final energy use, and only around 3 percent of that comes from renewables, according to the report's highlights.

The disparity in progress between the electric and other sectors is reflected in policy: 146 countries (out of 197) have set targets for increasing renewable energy use in the power sector, but only 48 have set renewable targets for heating and cooling and only 42 for transportation.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Joshua Tree National Park now has more unsafe ozone days than New York City. atramos / CC BY 2.0

Air Pollution in National Parks as Bad as 20 Largest U.S. Cities

A new study shows the importance of clean air regulations to prevent air pollution from reaching national parks.

A study published in Science Advances Wednesday found that, between 1990 and 2014, the ozone concentrations in 33 of the largest and most visited national parks were statistically indistinguishable from the ozone concentrations in the 20 largest U.S. cities.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Halliburton getting ready to frack in the Bakken formation, which underlies North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Joshua Doubek / CC BY-SA 3.0

Zinke’s Real Estate Deal With Halliburton Chair to Be Investigated

Ousted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt isn't the only polluter-friendly Trump appointee with sketchy ethics.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
"From 1992 to 2016, heat killed 783 workers in the U.S. and seriously injured nearly 70,000, according to a new report on heat risks." InsideClimateNews / USDA

Protect Workers From Extreme Heat, Advocates Urge OSHA

A broad coalition of worker advocacy, public health and environmental groups on Tuesday called on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a workplace standard for heat stress.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Tjeerd Wiersma from Amsterdam, The Netherlands / CC BY 2.0

How Coca-Cola and Climate Change Created a Public Health Crisis in a Mexican Town

A lack of drinking water and a surplus of Coca-Cola are causing a public health crisis in the Mexican town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Some neighborhoods in the town only get running water a few times a week, so residents turn to soda, drinking more than half a gallon a day on average.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Plastic trash isn't safe for kids, whether human or bear. Kevin Morgans Wildlife Photography

Even Polar Bear Cubs Can’t Escape Plastic Pollution

By Allison Guy

Plastic bags are often stamped with an all-caps warning: This bag is not a toy. Unfortunately, polar bear moms don't have much control over their kids' playthings.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Sea level rise is a natural consequence of the warming of our planet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

We Can’t Hide From Global Warming’s Consequences

Over the past few months, heat records have broken worldwide.

In early July, the temperature in Ouargla, Algeria, reached 51.3°C (124.34°F), the highest ever recorded in Africa! Temperatures in the eastern and southwestern U.S. and southeastern Canada have also hit record highs. In Montreal, people sweltered under temperatures of 36.6°C (97.88°F), the highest ever recorded there, as well as record-breaking extreme midnight heat and humidity, an unpleasant experience shared by people in Ottawa. Dozens of people have died from heat-related causes in Quebec alone.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Stacey_newman / Getty Images

More Than a Third of Schools Tested Have ‘Elevated Levels’ of Lead in Drinking Water

A troubling new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that more than a third of the nation's schools that tested their water for lead found "elevated levels" of the neurotoxin. But despite heightened concern in recent years about lead in drinking water, more than 40 percent of schools surveyed conducted no lead testing in 2016.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!