Report states record levels of renewable energy worldwide

01/06/2016 0 Comments

The Renewables Global Status Report has confirmed that investments in renewables during 2015 were more than double the amount spent on new coal and gas-fired power plants.

The study says that new solar, wind and hydropower sources were added in 2015 at the fastest rate the world has yet seen, and for the first time, emerging economies, such as China, spent more than the rich on renewable power and fuels.

The investment in the renewable energy sector peaked at $286bn in 2015 according to the new report, and now employs over 8 million people worldwide.

The authors say that China, India, Japan, the UK and the US were the countries adding on the largest share of green power, despite the fact that fossil fuel prices and costs of renewables have fallen significantly

"The fact that we had 147GW of capacity added in 2015, mainly of wind and solar, is a clear indication that these technologies are cost competitive (with fossil fuels)," said Christine Lins, who is executive secretary of REN21, an international body made up of energy experts, government representatives and NGOs, who produced the report.

"They are the preference for many countries and more and more utilities and investors and that is a very positive signal."

When measured against a country's GDP, the biggest investors were small countries like Honduras, Jamaica, Mauritania and Uruguay.

"It clearly shows that the costs have come down so much that the emerging economies are now really focussing on renewables," said Christine Lins.

"They are the ones with the biggest increases in energy demand, and the fact that we had this turning point really shows the business case - and that is really a remarkable development."

The UK is the fourth highest country investing in renewables despite a series of cuts to green subsidies over the past year, including the solar industry tariff support dropping by over 60% in December 2015. Despite European Investment in renewables dropping by around 21%, green power is now the leading source of electricity, providing 44% of total EU capacity in 2015.

The authors say that while the Paris Climate Agreement came after this report was compiled, the fact that countries were getting serious about rising temperatures has already been reflected, to some degree, in their investments. As of early 2016, 173 nations had renewable energy targets in place.

It's not just nations that are taking big steps towards a greener future. In the US, some 154 companies employing 11 million people have committed to 100% renewable energy.

Despite this there are some sectors that are proving resistant to green energy such as transport and heating and cooling, which in part is due to the current low price of oil. However, the report is confident that future of renewables is positive.

"I've been working in this sector for 20 years and the economic case is now fully there," said Christine Lins.

"The renewables industry is not just dependant on a couple of markets but it has turned into a truly global one with markets everywhere and that is really encouraging."



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