Renewable Sources Made up 72% of New Energy Added in 2019
Renewable energy made up almost three quarters of all new energy capacity added in 2019, data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows.
That's a record breaking figure, The Guardian reported. As is the fact that more than one third of global power is now provided by renewable sources like wind and solar. But IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera warned that governments must not backtrack on this progress as they work to jump start their economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"In responding to today's crisis, governments may be tempted to focus on short-term solutions," he said, according to The Guardian. "Yet distinctions between short-, medium- and long-term challenges may be deceptive. The pandemic shows that delayed action brings significant economic consequences."
Overall, the report found that renewable energy added slightly less overall capacity in 2019 compared to 2018, at 176 gigawatts (GW) compared to 179. However, the amount of new fossil fuel power added also declined, The Guardian pointed out. Renewables also grew 2.6 times more than fossil fuels and made up 72 percent of new energy capacity added, the report found.
"Renewable energy is a cost-effective source of new power that insulates power markets and consumers from volatility, supports economic stability and stimulates sustainable growth," La Camera said in a press release. "With renewable additions providing the majority of new capacity last year, it is clear that many countries and regions recognise the degree to which the energy transition can deliver positive outcomes."
Renewable energy grew by 7.6 percent in 2019. On a regional level, 54 percent of that growth occurred in Asia. When it comes to power sources, 90 percent of the growth was driven by solar and wind, which increased by 98 GW and around 60 GW respectively.
#Renewableenergy capacity additions in 2019 took #renewables share of all global power capacity to 34.7%, up from 3… https://t.co/dW1lUHsBzH— IRENA (@IRENA)1586189400.0
However the 2020 outlook may be less bright, CNBC reported. There are concerns that the coronavirus pandemic and the plummeting of oil prices may decrease renewable energy investments, and there are already signs that the virus is interfering with renewable energy supply chains.
For example, Wood Mackenzie projected on Monday that 3 GW of wind and solar installation in India could be delayed because of the coronavirus lockdown and noted that the solar sector in India was heavily dependent on photovoltaic imports from China, which were impacted by the virus.
Meanwhile, the Global Wind Energy Council said in late March that wind's previously projected growth over the next five years would "undoubtedly be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, due to disruptions to global supply chains and project execution in 2020."
WindEurope said 18 manufacturing sites in hard-hit Spain and Italy are now closed, though the majority of the continent's wind turbine factories remain open.
"As an existential threat, the multi-faceted fallout from coronavirus … now sits alongside climate change as a defining challenge of our time," La Camera wrote, as CNBC reported.
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1. Wangari Maathai<p>In 2004, Professor Maathai made history as the <a href="https://www.nobelpeaceprize.org/Prize-winners/Prizewinner-documentation/Wangari-Maathai" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize</a> for her dedication to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She started the <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Green Belt Movement</a>, a community-based tree planting initiative that aims to reduce poverty and encourage conservation, in 1977. More than 51 million trees have been planted helping build climate resilience and empower communities, especially women and girls. Her environmental work is celebrated every year on <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/node/955" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wangari Maathai Day on 3 March</a>.</p>
2. Robert Bullard<p>Known as the 'father of environmental justice,' Dr Bullard has <a href="https://www.unep.org/championsofearth/laureates/2020/robert-bullard" target="_blank">campaigned against harmful waste</a> being dumped in predominantly Black neighborhoods in the southern states of the U.S. since the 1970s. His first book, Dumping in Dixie, highlighted the link between systemic racism and environmental oppression, showing how the descendants of slaves were exposed to higher-than-average levels of pollutants. In 1994, his work led to the signing of the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/albert-huang/20th-anniversary-president-clintons-executive-order-12898-environmental-justice" target="_blank">Executive Order on Environmental Justice</a>, which the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/executive-order-on-tackling-the-climate-crisis-at-home-and-abroad/" target="_blank">Biden administration is building on</a>.<br></p>
Pollution has a race problem. Elizabethwarren.com
3. John Francis<p>Helping the clean-up operation after an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in January 1971 inspired Francis to <a href="https://planetwalk.org/about-john/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stop taking motorized transport</a>. Instead, for 22 years, he walked everywhere. He also took a vow of silence that lasted 17 years, so he could listen to others. He has walked the width of the U.S. and sailed and walked through South America, earning the nickname "Planetwalker," and raising awareness of how interconnected people are with the environment.</p>
4. Dr. Warren Washington<p>A meteorology and climate pioneer, Dr. Washington was one of the first people to develop atmospheric computer models in the 1960s, which have helped scientists understand climate change. These models now also incorporate the oceans and sea ice, surface water and vegetation. In 2007, the <a href="https://www.cgd.ucar.edu/pcm/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Parallel Climate Model (PCM)</a> and <a href="https://www.cesm.ucar.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Community Earth System Model (CESM)</a>, earned Dr. Washington and his colleagues the <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2007/summary/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Nobel Peace Prize</a>, as part of the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a>.</p>
5. Angelou Ezeilo<p>Huge trees and hikes to pick berries during her childhood in upstate New York inspired Ezeilo to become an environmentalist and set up the <a href="https://gyfoundation.org/staff/Angelou-Ezeilo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Greening Youth Foundation</a>, to educate future generations about the importance of preservation. Through its schools program and Youth Conservation Corps, the social enterprise provides access to nature to disadvantaged children and young people in the U.S. and West Africa. In 2019, Ezeilo published her book <em>Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders</em>, co-written by her Pulitzer Prize-winning brother Nick Chiles.</p>
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