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04 June 2018Energy
Workers installing solar panels on a barn roof. 10 10 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
<p>These are the conclusions of the <a href="http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/17-8652_GSR2018_FullReport_web_-1.pdf" target="_blank"><em>Renewables 2018 Global Status Report</em></a>, the most recent annual report from Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (<a href="http://www.ren21.net/about-ren21/about-us/" target="_blank">REN21</a>), an organization that works to facilitate a transition to renewable energy by sharing knowledge, developing policy and urging action.</p><p>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.</p><p>"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. </p><p>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 <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/solar" target="_self">solar</a> and <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/wind" target="_self">wind</a> power. Renewable power upped its capacity by almost 9 percent compared with 2016, it's largest annual increase ever. </p><p>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 <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/fossil-fuels" target="_self">fossil fuels</a> or <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/nuclear" target="_self">nuclear</a> energy, echoing an earlier <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/solar-capacity-2017-2556858644.html" target="_self">UN-backed report</a> 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 <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/hydropower" target="_self">hydropower</a> 11 percent. </p><p>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. </p><p>However, despite these positive tidings, the report acknowledged that greenhouse gas emissions had also increased by 1.4 percent in 2017, the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/global-carbon-emissions-2551232087.html" target="_self">first time</a> they rose in four years. The report linked this to an increased energy demand of 2.1 percent largely due to economic growth.</p><p>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 <a href="http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/180603_GSR_2018_Highlights_D_2.pdf" target="_blank">highlights</a>. </p><p>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. </p>
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Renewables Added Enough Capacity in 2016 to Power Every Home in the UK, Germany, France and Italy Combined
07 June 2017Popular
Newly installed renewable power capacity set new records in 2016, with 161 gigawatts added, according to the annual Renewables Global Status Report by the Paris-based Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) released Tuesday.
<p><span></span>Total capacity increased by almost 9 percent from 2015, reaching a cumulative capacity of 2,017 gigawatts, with <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/solar">solar</a> photovoltaic accounting for around 47 percent of the capacity added, followed by <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/wind">wind</a> power at 34 percent and <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/hydropower">hydropower</a> at 15.5 percent.</p><p><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/world-renewable-energy-production-record-increase-2016-green-power-western-europe-half-ren21-a7776646.html" target="_blank">The Independent</a> puts it more simply: "The world added enough renewable energy capacity to power every house in the UK, Germany, France and Italy combined last year."<br></p><p>Notably, the 161 gigawatts added last year cost $241.6 billion—"but this was a staggering 23 percent cheaper than it would have cost in the previous year," as the Independent explained from the REN21 report. </p><p>According to REN21, "the world now adds more renewable power capacity annually than it adds in net new capacity from all fossil fuels combined" thanks to a dramatic drop in costs. </p><p><span></span>"Recent deals in Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, Peru and the United Arab Emirates saw renewable electricity being delivered at USD 0.05 per kilowatt-hour or less," the United Nations Climate Change Newsroom <a href="http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/another-record-breaking-year-for-renewable-energy/" target="_blank">observed</a> from the REN21 report. "This is well below equivalent costs for fossil fuel and nuclear generating capacity in each of these countries."</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-twitter_embed"><iframe width="100%" height="150" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode twitter-embed-872443652202786816" id="twitter-embed-872443652202786816" type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-872443652202786816&created_ts=1496841750.0&screen_name=UNFCCC&text=2016+was+another+record+year+for+renewable+energy+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FhXJg7z6XgS+161+GW+power+capacity+added%2C+despite+23%25%E2%80%A6+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FMwJza09krx&id=872443652202786816&name=UN+Climate+Action" frameborder="0" data-rm-shortcode-id="52JG2W1496862324"></iframe></p><p><span></span>However, REN21 points out that the world's clean energy transition is not happening fast enough to achieve the goals of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/paris-agreement" target="_blank">Paris climate agreement</a>. </p><p>For instance, new renewable energy investments are down; transport, heating and cooling sectors continue to lag behind the power sector; and decarbonizing the transport sector is not being seen as a priority. </p><p>Furthermore, subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power dramatically exceed those for renewables. </p><p><span></span>"In 2014 the ratio of fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy subsidies was 4:1. In other words, for every USD 1 spent on renewables, governments spent USD 4 perpetuating our dependence on fossil fuels. This is distorting the market in very unproductive ways," the report states. </p><p>As Christine Lins, the executive secretary of REN21, said, "The world is in a race against time. The single most important thing we could do to reduce CO2 emissions quickly and cost-effectively, is phase-out coal and speed up investments in energy efficiency and renewables."</p><p>"When China announced in January that it was cancelling more than 100 coal plants currently in development, they set an example for governments everywhere: change happens quickly when governments act—by establishing clear, long-term policy and financial signals and incentives," Lins concluded.</p><p><em><em><strong>How much money can a solar roof save you? Find local deals on solar in your area, eliminate your power bill and join the solar revolution. <a href="http://lp.understandsolar.com/core-20160530-upgrade-short-0.2-ceetcpa/?lead_source=0eaee687194728adbdca0981367d1cfa&tracking_code=link" target="_blank">UnderstandSolar</a> is a great free service to link you to top-rated solar installers in your region that will provide you personalized solar estimates for free. <a href="http://lp.understandsolar.com/core-20160530-upgrade-short-0.2-ceetcpa/?lead_source=0eaee687194728adbdca0981367d1cfa&tracking_code=link" target="_blank">Learn more here</a>.</strong></em></em></p>
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